Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Delivering adequate Wi-Fi bandwidth to university students and providing connectivity for multiple IP based vendors.
Q. GX2 normally provides Wi-Fi in hotels. How did you get involved in Student Accommodation?
A. Although we’ve had some student accommodations customers for some years, both in Australia and the UK, it hasn’t been a focus. With the rising demand for student accommodation in Australia however, several institutions asked us if we’d be interested in proposing Wi-Fi solutions based on our experience in the demanding youth hostel and backpacker market.
Q. What excited you about Student One?
A. As Student One were completely refurbishing the old Boeing Aerospace building in Brisbane CBD, we were keen to design and build a seriously good Wi-Fi network from the ground-up.
Q. What was the design brief?
A. Student One wanted their tenants to experience a free and fast Wi-Fi with unlimited download to differentiate Student One from their competitors. As you can probably imagine, students have many devices including tablets, laptops and gaming consoles. They want to download movies, play games, stream music and run multiple-session video conferences with apps such as Oovoo.
If the Wi-Fi doesn’t support this, the students will let everyone know on social media, which isn’t good for business. Conversely, if the Wi-Fi is really really good, it’s a big factor in a student’s choice of accommodation.
Q. What are the key factors in building a great Wi-Fi network?
A. Big Bandwidth, good cabling, fibre uplinks, 802.11 ac Access Points and good switching. The challenge is that when we design the AP placement for a new site, we have to do it very early in the process with predictive software so that we can tell the cable contractors where to run the Cat6/7 cable. We have to get this part right. Then we have to work with builders and architects who are not unknown to change construction details after the final design.
Q. How much bandwidth from the ISP and what’s the utilisation?
A. There’s two links. Each supplying several hundred Mbps and capable of being wound up to 1Gbps. We’re keeping an eye on the utilisation as guest numbers ramp up but its obvious that per-user, this is probably the most bandwidth-hungry site we’ve ever seen.
Q. What challenges did you experience in the rollout?
A. Nothing particularly difficult as we’d planned this project over a long period of time. The network went in very smoothly, and the integration with StarRez worked fine. We needed to tweak the Splash Page slightly but it was a pretty calm project. The only curly part was when people turned up to install a room full of washing and drying machines.
Students use their personal ID cards to have the charges for these facilities appear on their account. For this to happen, the machines need to access a Cloud-based system that then talks to StarRez via blue network cables or Wi-Fi to the IP network.
We find it quite common in many sites the need to accommodate these and other similar last-minute IP connectivity requests such as car-park boom gates, Building Management Systems or door locks in a robust – yet secure manner.
Welcome to the Internet of Things – we’ve been doing it for years.
HP Core and Edge Switching
Ruckus Wireless 802.11ac Access Points
2 x GX2 Gateway Appliances
(Big) Fortinet Security Appliance
Uninterruptible Power Supply
GX2 24/7 Guest Support