If you run a multi-vendor solution ensure that the two vendors can co-exist.
For example, we implemented both a Cisco and Avaya solution. Even though
each of these solutions met the 802.11b standard the individual PC wireless
network cards would not work with the other vendors access points. Prior
to purchasing the Avaya solution we tested the compatibility between the
two vendors. Only after working with the companies for a couple of months
and after installing newer firmware were we able to achieve the required
transparent access between the Cisco and Avaya hardware.
Placement of Access Points
The placement of access points and antennas hallways and classrooms is
very important to prevent damage to the equipment. Access points were
installed above the ceilings or high up on walls to prevent tampering.
New electrical outlets needed to be installed to support some of the access
Hide your Antennas
Originally the antennas from the Avaya Orinoco solution extended 8 inches
down from the ceiling. We discovered that our taller students loved to
attempt to test their jumping abilities and two antennas were destroyed.
We later moved the antennas so that only one inch of the antenna hung
below the ceiling tiles, and the connections worked fine.
Do a Site Survey
It is important to do a site survey prior to the purchase and installation
of the equipment. Test the signal strength from planned access point locations
to the furthest area that you want the wireless signal to transmit. The
number and type of walls (concrete or drywall) makes a difference and
the site survey will ensure your assumptions will work.
Expansion is Relatively Easy
Once wireless access points are connected to your network you can double
the available Bandwidth (11MB) by simply adding another card into the
Avaya Orinoco solution. Further expansion can be accomplished by adding
additional access points.
There are concerns with security especially with the recent announcements
regarding the potential loopholes with the WEP protocol. When implementing
this solution we weighed both the positive advantages vs. the associated
risks. To date we have implemented the following measures:
- Assigned permanent IP Addresses to each access point.
- Assigned SSID's to each access point.
- We do not regularly use the wireless solution for communicating with
our core administrative database.
- When students are regularly using their own laptops to access campus
resources we will implement the WEP protocol.
- We will continue to monitor this situation closely.