SAN JOSE, Calif., January 30, 2008 - Cisco® announced today that Montreal's Concordia University has added the next chapter to its history as one of Canada's leading technology trailblazers by deploying the country's first 802.11n wireless network on a university campus and incorporating it as part of a larger, innovative indoor-outdoor wireless mobility infrastructure.
The adoption of Cisco's next-generation 802.11n wireless technology allows Concordia University to expand its campus-wide wireless network. Part of the Cisco Unified Wireless Network, the 802.11n solution offers improved reliability and faster throughput for existing 802.11g implementations. The new 802.11n network represents the university's latest milestone in adopting cutting-edge information technology from Cisco. Concordia University, which hosts about 40,000 students, deployed Canada's first wireless local-area network in 2001, and in 2003 it was the country's first higher-education institution to roll out Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) across a wireless infrastructure. Today, Concordia University is enhancing its indoor wireless network with Wi-Fi-certified 802.11n Aironet® 1250 Series Access Points from Cisco and managing a first-of-its-kind service-oriented outdoor mesh network that offers mobile phone and data storage services. Although they are two distinct initiatives, together they strengthen the school's ability to provide reliable wireless performance and innovative mobile services to students and staff.
For instance, the university acts as a telecommunications service provider to the campus community. Although accessing the indoor 802.11n network is free, the university charges subscribers a monthly rate of CAN $8.99 for outdoor connections. Concordia is already working on a plan that will allow students who are physically on campus to seamlessly offload calls from their mobile provider's network, allowing them to avoid burning minutes from their mobile phone plans. This transition between the campus and mobile carriers' networks, various mobile applications and mobile devices (called seamless mobile collaboration, or SMC) represents a novel approach to supporting everything from general student communications and ubiquitous connectivity to campus operations and emergency preparedness.
In addition to being a service provider for wireless mobile telecommunications, Concordia University allows students and staff to subscribe to virtualized desktops, which minimizes software and hardware replacement costs as well as the number of potential attack vectors that viruses and other security threats can exploit. The IT team stores data for subscribers and provides necessary applications on demand.
"Our IT organization serves as a service provider, a storage provider, a software provider, and more," said Andrew McAusland, associate vice president of Instructional and Information Technology Services at Concordia University. "We make a conscientious effort to provide our students with advanced services. This represents a significant part of our vision and commitment to all Concordians. Our work with Cisco, particularly the combination of 802.11n wireless networking, VoIP over WLAN, outdoor mesh and seamless mobile collaboration technologies, brings this vision to life."
All of these services represent industry firsts within Canada's education community. Concordia University's penchant for deploying first-of-its-kind technology parallels Cisco's recent innovation in the wireless mobility arena, particularly in the area of outdoor mesh and 802.11n. Cisco is the first vendor to ship 802.11n products globally, and entering 2008 it was the only vendor delivering actual products to the marketplace. According to the latest market-share reports from Dell'Oro and Synergy, Cisco commands 64 percent of the wireless local-area network (WLAN) space, seven times its nearest competitor's share. Gartner's Wireless LAN Infrastructure Magic Quadrant, released December 20, 2007, pegs Cisco as an industry leader as well.
McAusland said Cisco's history of leadership in the wireless networking and IT space fuels his confidence to adopt new-age technology.
"Anytime you become an early adopter, the integrity of a vendor's track record in a particular technology space, as well as the investment protection provided by that technology, is absolutely critical," McAusland said. "With 802.11n, Cisco meets those requirements. They were there when we deployed our first WLAN, when we rolled out VoIP over that WLAN, when we established an outdoor mesh network. And now they are helping us be the vanguard for 802.11n within our country's education community. Our 802.11n deployment is live and operational as we speak. Using Cisco's latest offerings give us a differentiable advantage that pays off for our campus community."
Shipped this fall, Cisco's Aironet 1250 Series Access Points are the industry's first Wi-Fi-certified 802.11n draft 2.0 access points and first commercially available product to have participated in the Wi-Fi Alliance 802.11n draft 2.0 testbed. In addition to the increase in throughput, McAusland said Cisco's multiple-in, multiple-out (MIMO) technology helps his team achieve backward compatibility with older b- and g-based access points to provide highly reliable wireless coverage, particularly for challenging radio frequency environments within the university's environs.
"There have been a lot of claims and speculation about prospective 802.11n deployments, but Concordia University's live 802.11n network is showing that actions speak louder than words," said Ben Gibson, Cisco's senior director of mobility solutions. "While 802.11n represents a significant wave of the future, the university knows that 802.11n is not the beginning and end of its innovative scope. The university realizes that the sum is greater than its parts. Concordia University is showing the higher education and broader business community a successful model for weaving 802.11n into the fabric of a larger, comprehensive indoor-outdoor mobility infrastructure."