Duke Plans Record 802.11n Deployment

Encompassing 2,500 Cisco access points, the university claims throughput of nearly 130M bps per client, the largest planned 802.11n wireless network.

Duke University plans to cover its more than six million square feet of campus with an 802.11n network to provide wireless coverage in academic halls, libraries, residence halls and other buildings. The deployment includes 2,500 access points.

According to Cisco, which is supporting the network with its Aironet 1250 series of access, the Duke project is the largest planned 802.11n wireless network in the world by any organization to date.

"Universities are an ideal testing ground for new technologies, especially wireless uses and devices, because students are spending their entire day on campus in a mobile manner," Tracy Futhey, Duke's chief information officer, said in a statement.

During testing of the system, Duke experienced average data throughput performance of nearly 130M bps per client with the access points. The university indicated that existing 802.11g clients such as laptops connected to an access point obtained almost twice the data rate achieved while connected to an older wireless network.

"We expect the campus-wide 802.11n wireless network to increasingly be the primary mode of connectivity for data access and mobility applications," Futhey said. "The value of a technology like 802.11n is about enabling new kinds of uses on our campus, giving our students new opportunities and enabling faculty to push the limits and try things that were not possible before on previous wireless technologies."

The new Duke network also supports the Duke Digital Initiative by allowing multimodal "classrooms of tomorrow" and collaborative group study areas. In addition, Futhey said video applications would become more pervasive with streaming audio, video and HDTV (high-definition TV) over Wi-Fi.

"At Duke, we really have the opportunity to apply innovative wireless technology that can meet the demands of a diverse, mobile user base and enrich their academic and social experience as a result," Futhey said.

Cisco Senior Director of Mobility Solutions Ben Gibson said the Duke network is evidence that 802.11n is ready for prime time.

"Duke is one of the first organizations to realize the benefits of a Cisco 802.11n wireless network and what it enables them to do: transform how they learn, live and play," Gibson said.