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First large-scale 802.11n wireless LAN now operational

Morrisville State College has 720 access points that create a pervasive, reliable, high-throughput wireless LAN

By , Network World
November 28, 2007 02:40 PM ET

Network World - The world’s first large-scale 802.11n wireless LAN is now operational. And students using the network at the small, rural New York state college where the wireless technology is deployed say they see a dramatic difference in what they can do with it, along with a more reliable WLAN connection.

The 11n WLAN, based on gear from Meru Networks, is still in its shakedown phase, according to Morrisville State College IT staff. The 720 new AP 320 11n access points, hot off Meru’s assembly line, replace the same number of 11a/b/g access points installed over the summer in the first phase of Morrisville’s migration to 11n.

There’s been no time yet for systematic performance and capacity testing, but students and IT staff say they’re seeing improvements compared to the previous 11a/b/g infrastructure. Bandwidth-hungry applications are noticeably faster. Classrooms can run video newsfeeds and online conferences without buffering delays. Users don’t have to struggle with dropped connections.

MSC student Timothy Koch, a senior in the Network Administration bachelor's degree program, says 11n throughput and capacity are changing what can be done in classrooms. In his Network Defense and Countermeasures class, for example, students now can work effortlessly with streaming video feeds and online security conferences. “The wireless [network] that was provided before wasn’t fast enough to watch the video feeds,” Koch says. “The videos would still take time to buffer, and it was annoying when you’re trying to participate in class exercises and the video streams do not want to function properly.”

Currently, Morrisville is seeing just over 1,200 simultaneous wireless clients at peak periods. There are about 3,000 official, registered users. Besides laptops there are about 80 other devices on the network to date, including new wireless iPod Touches, a few Apple iPhones, some other handhelds and wireless gaming consoles.

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