Springfield District Upgrades Wireless Network

Springfield School District 186, a K-12 district comprising 39 locations in Springfield, Illinois, is in the process of deploying Aruba Instant, Aruba’s controller-less Wi-Fi solution, to upgrade its wireless network. When complete, the deployment will use 1,200 Aruba Instant IAP-105 access points along with the Aruba AirWave Management System, to provide an 802.11n wireless LAN for the entire district.

Springfield School District includes three high schools, seven middle schools, 24 elementary schools, a charter school, an adult education center, a technology center and business and administrative offices. Although Springfield had previously deployed a wireless network to serve the district, the pre-802.11n network was not reliable or high-performing enough to accommodate the influx of mobile devices and equipment being used in classrooms. Springfield evaluated a number of wireless vendors and ultimately chose Aruba Instant for its low cost, ease of management and reliability.

“Our teachers and students have become increasingly dependent upon the wireless network for teaching and learning, and with the 1:1 iPad initiative we plan to roll out in the high schools, having a reliable infrastructure is even more critical,” said Brent Qualls, manager of data and information systems for Springfield School District.

To test Aruba Instant’s reliability, Springfield began its deployment in the most challenging locations in its district: three high schools, one of which was built in the 1900s and contained thick, brick and mortar walls, and all of which had experienced problems. “We felt if Instant could work in these locations, it could work anywhere,” Qualls explained. The Aruba Instant access points (IAPs) provided the coverage and performance Springfield was looking for.

With new devices including more iPads and Macs being added to the network every day, Springfield’s requirement for a solid wireless infrastructure has moved to the top of the district’s priority list. The new Springfield wireless network is currently supporting about 2,400 devices in four buildings, and Springfield will continue to roll out Aruba IAPs to the rest of the district locations during the coming months. The district is also using Aruba’s AirWave Management System to monitor and manage the wireless network, allowing them to identify and resolve network issues.

“The wireless just has to work, because we don’t have the resources to troubleshoot and fix network problems," observed Qualls. "With our old network, we were experiencing connection issues on a daily basis, but in the buildings where we’ve now deployed Aruba Instant, our wireless issues have disappeared.”