Ladies and gentlemen of the WLAN industry, here are the problems with wireless networking in college dorms, and a head start on how you can develop a solution.
- College dorms are usually covered by the same enterprise 802.1x network used on the rest of campus, but are really more residential feeling at the operational level.
- Wireless printing doesn’t work where you have hundreds of anything-goes printers with no coordination on the same WLAN- and consumer-grade $40 printers don’t support enterprise security.
- Game consoles and Bonjoury toys also are fraught with problems and usually need yucky work-arounds on the business network usually found in dorms, or get relegated to the wired network.
- Rogues get installed to get around what campus WLAN can’t easily provide
- Ditching the enterprise WLAN and letting students bring their own wireless routers is a recipe for chaos and angst from the RF and support perspectives.
It’s not cut and dry, and my enormous cranium hasn’t yet formed the whole solution. But it starts like this:
- Keep all the benefits of a centrally-managed solution. RF coordination, central monitoring and configs, etc- whether cloud-based or local not so important here.
- Study PowerCloud’s Skydog network paradigm. Everything about it doesn’t fit the dorm challenge, but a lot of it does. If you can treat each dorm room as an apartment, with a dedicated SSID or some other compensating control (not all dorm rooms would need their own AP) we’d be off to a good start
- Maybe use elements of Ruckus‘ Secure Hotspot in a way that lets a single student or roommates have all of her/their gadgets in a little “private WLAN” all somehow using the same private PSK.
- Make sure any one student’s most common gadgets can all interact in their own little WLAN space (even Bonjour toys and printers), that it’s all easy to self-setup, and can be administered by WLAN admins if trouble hits.
- With all device types accomodated, the reasons for rogues are eliminated.
- Make sure students can’t get to each other’s stuff, but allow for on-demand temporary access when sharing is desired.
- Make sure that however it all gets put together, the RF environment is still well-coordinated.
There- that was easy. Now someone just needs to build the code and interfaces…