It is remarkable how far wireless computing on campus has come. In the early 1990s, some college campuses were experimenting with wireless computing, with the idea that laptop computers could be carried around campus and remain connected to the network. Those early pioneers struggled with non-standard systems and expensive, proprietary client devices. There were also low baud rate interfaces to the cellular network in select markets. In the mid-1990s, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) created the IEEE 802.11 standard for wireless computing, but even this standard permitted non-interoperable technologies, such as infrared (IR), and different radio frequency (RF) modulation techniques. In the late 1990s, the IEEE 802.11 amendments standardized on an RF (versus IR) carrier, and the Wi-Fi alliance developed interoperability testing. This opened the door for large scale commoditization of the wireless client device, now embedded in virtually every mobile device.
Early campus Wi-Fi deployments focused on wireless signal coverage, extension of the network outdoors, and, in some cases, elimination of cabling in hard-to-cable areas. Today, students and faculty expect robust Wi-Fi throughout their campus for virtually every network application. Wi-Fi deployments are focused on capacity and reliable service, as the wireless network has become mission critical. In some cases, the requirement is to install one wireless access point (AP) in every residence hall room and multiple APs in every classroom, requiring the installation of more wide-bandwidth data cable.
Please read the full article by Oberon President Scott D. Thompson, published in the July/August issue of ICT Today: