In one of the world's largest and most innovative implementations of 802.11 (Wi-Fi) technology ever, Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, has selected Aruba Networks for a massive infrastructure upgrade.
Already underway, Dartmouth is building one of the most advanced Wi-Fi networks in operation to support next-generation voice, video and data services to students and faculty throughout its 200 building, 1.5 square mile campus.
Dartmouth has deployed over 350 Aruba dual-radio 802.11a+b/g access points and air monitors and 12 Aruba 5000 wireless LAN switches. Over the next several months, Dartmouth is replacing over 550 Cisco 350 802.11b APs with dual-radio 802.11a+b/g Aruba 70 APs.
Dartmouth's Wi-Fi network is being built to support more than 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students and 2,500 faculty and staff with voice, cable TV and data along with new location services over an 802.11 infrastructure supported by Aruba wireless LAN (WLAN) switching technology.
Nearly every Dartmouth student owns a personal computer and more than 9,000 PCs are in use campus wide. According to the college, approximately 90 percent of new freshman arrive with 802.11-enabled laptops.
What's Driving Wireless at Dartmouth?
The Dartmouth project was driven by the need for centralized wireless management, future-proofed protection and flexible security options.
According to Dartmouth, universal authentication on any port and the migration to 802.1X for both wired and wireless users were key factors in the upgrade. "We currently operate an open network but are moving users to 802.1X," said Noblet. "Aruba lets us do this quickly and easily from a central location for both wired and wireless users without impacting the ongoing operation of the infrastructure. We can now perform different types of authentication on any port, whether Web-based authentication, VPN or an 802.1X -- without having to install a variety of equipment to support each method."
Already in use through select parts of the Dartmouth campus, students use laptops and PDAs equipped with Cisco's soft phone technology, IP Communicator and instant messaging from Vocera to communicate over the Wi-Fi network. At any given time 50 staff or students are using Vocera IP badges over Wi-Fi within Dartmouth's Thayer Engineering School. Because Aruba's system combines application awareness and stateful traffic controls, it can uniquely identify voice and data traffic coming from the same laptop and prioritize voice over data to ensure the high quality calls.
Dartmouth is also using Wi-Fi technology to provide streaming media, cable TV and to push reference materials, such as class notes or assignments, to students based on time-of-day or physical location. Dartmouth is replacing its cable TV plant with cable over Wi-Fi by converting NTSC and digital cable signals to MPEG for streaming over its 802.11 infrastructure.
With voice, video and data running over Wi-Fi, Dartmouth improves its ability to quickly provide multi-media services to students and faculty wherever they are and reduces capital and operational costs from physical cabling changes that must be made.
Dartmouth found the management and upgrading of legacy APs was costly and cumbersome. "We wanted to increase performance, centralize management and support new voice and video services over a dual-band 802.11a+b/g infrastructure," said Noblet. "Aruba gave us 802.11a and b/g support in APs that can be managed from a single point. It also delivered a central point for all security and RF visibility and management that we didn't have with our existing wireless system."