University Wi-Fi Leaps Ahead with Upgrade to UAP
Introduction During the academic school year, Mount St. Mary’s University educates over 2000 full-time students: nearly 1800 undergraduates and almost 400 graduate students (excluding seminary students). Mount St. Mary’s is located in Emmitsburg, Maryland and also has a satellite campus in the city of Frederick. For 2017, U. S. News & World Report ranked Mount St. Mary’s University as number 25 out of nearly 200 universities in the North region.
MEETING THE DEMAND FOR BANDWIDTH Mount St. Mary’s supports approximately 2600 users on a daily basis, including students, faculty, and staff. Due to the growing influx of new technologies and devices, the university needed to significantly increase Wi-Fi performance and coverage throughout the campus, including classrooms, lecture halls, conference rooms, offices, and residence halls.
Campus bandwidth is consumed by the following: §
Local and cloud-based instructional software applications
Video streaming (55% of total bandwidth usage)
New technologies in the classroom, as well as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and IoT (Internet of Things) devices
PRODUCT SELECTION Mount St. Mary’s selected Ubiquiti products for these reasons:
Intuitive network and device management
Ease of deployment
Reliable Wi-Fi for high-density environments, including lecture halls, classrooms, and conference rooms
CAMPUS-WIDE WI-FI OVERHAUL Mount St. Mary’s installed a variety of Ubiquiti Access Points (APs) to suit different Wi-Fi coverage needs and applications.
For the main campus, Mount St. Mary’s deployed the UAP HD APs for classrooms, auditoriums, conference rooms, and dining halls. The UAP AC Pro and IW APs are installed in the residence halls and office areas. There are also remote sites. Mount St. Mary’s Athletics wanted to live stream track and field events and softball/baseball games, as well as provide Wi-Fi access to fans and press. Two other locations, a maintenance building and student housing, required network connectivity. For these sites, Mount St. Mary’s deployed the UAP HD and AC Pro APs for indoor Wi-Fi and the UAP AC Mesh Pro APs for outdoor Wi-Fi.
NETWORK CONNECTIVITY FOR REMOTE SITES For the remote sites, Mount St. Mary’s deployed three outdoor wireless links using airMAX AC technology and products: § Point-to-MultiPoint (PtMP) link: softball stadium, track, and maintenance facility § Point-to-Point (PtP) link: baseball stadium § PtP link: student housing The softball stadium, track, and maintenance facility did not have underground fiber, and new fiber would be cost-prohibitive and time-consuming to deploy, so instead, Mount St. Mary’s installed a PtMP link that uses the Rocket5AC Lite as the basestation and three NanoBeam 5AC Gen2 CPEs. Each NanoBeam connects to a UAPi 8-Port PoE Switch, which delivers data and power to the Ubiquiti APs at that location. The Rocket5AC Lite is paired with an airMAX AC sector antenna featuring 21 dBi of gain and 60° of beamwidth. This antenna is highly resistant to noise interference due to its innovative deflector design and reduced sidelobes and backlobes. Each NanoBeam was installed with an RF isolator shield, the IsoBeam™, to enhance signal isolation as the surrounding RF environment is extremely noisy.
The baseball stadium is separately located in a different direction, so Mount St. Mary’s deployed a PtP link using two NanoBeam 5AC Gen2 devices, each equipped with an IsoBeam.
Before the start of the 2018-2019 school year, flooding caused the failure of an underground fiber link to student housing. To avoid troubleshooting and repairs that could run into the school year, Mount St. Mary’s installed a PtP link that was up and running in time at a significantly lower cost. The Rocket Prism® 5AC Gen2 with an airMAX AC sector antenna acts as the basestation and a NanoBeam 5AC Gen2 with IsoBeam acts as the CPE. This link can be further expanded as needed.
10G WIRED BACKBONE Mount St. Mary’s has 4 Gbps of internet bandwidth: two 2 Gbps connections from separate ISPs going into two 10G 16-Port EdgeSwitches, which then connect to stand-alone firewall security devices. Sporting a DC input option for redundancy or standalone use, each aggregation switch enhances network capacity and offers twelve SFP+ ports for fiber connectivity and four RJ45 ports for copper connectivity
CENTRALIZED MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE Intuitive network and device management software is included free of charge with Ubiquiti products – there are no licensing, software, or maintenance fees involved. The scalable UAP Controller software is used to quickly set up and manage individual devices as well as multiple sites.
airMAX AC products run on airOS® 8, an operating system with ready access via a web browser and intuitive graphical user interface. Their multi-radio architecture powers a revolutionary RF analytics engine, which feed real-time reporting metrics displayed in airOS 8: § Persistent RF Error Vector Magnitude (EVM) constellation diagrams § Signal, Noise, and Interference (SNI) diagrams § Carrier to Interference-plus-Noise Ratio (CINR) histograms § airView® spectrum analyzer tool.
Mount St. Mary’s is currently using airControl® for monitoring the airMAX network; however, the university is considering a single control plane, the Ubiquiti Network Management System, to manage both airMAX and EdgeMAX® devices.
FUTURE PLANS FOR GROWTH Mount St. Mary’s is looking ahead to extend the Ubiquiti wireless deployment to the NCAA Division I basketball arena and new student services building (currently under construction). For the upcoming wired network overhaul, the university is testing a variety of Ubiquiti routing and switching products. By leveraging wireless technology, Mount St. Mary’s plans to derive even more benefits to education in its drive to become the top university in the region.