Improve the performance of your existing school WiFi

At Redway Networks, we’re specialists in WiFi and known for our great WiFi design. It’s in our DNA and is the building blocks to a superior wireless network as however great the products, its the WiFi design that underpins the network performance. Wireless that’s poorly designed won’t be an asset but will affect the performance and security of your school’s network.

Post-Installation Surveys

We focus on the finer details and our in-depth knowledge of school wireless networks, quality of our professional onsite surveys (performed using Ekahau) and WiFi reports delivered in an extensive but easy to digest format, that sets us apart from other IT vendors.

A post-installation professional, onsite WiFi or troubleshooting survey will highlight coverage and if capacity meets your school’s requirements in addition to giving you the assurance moving forward that your new wireless network has been properly designed for current and future usage.

Extensive WiFi experience

Our certified network engineers have extensive experience within the education sector and will deliver a ‘gold standard’ service for WiFi surveys using Ekahau’s heat-mapping software – recognised as the world’s leading analysis tool.

Accurate WiFi Signal

When performing a post-installation Wi-Fi survey or a troubleshooting survey we can conduct both an active and passive WiFi survey. During an active survey, the WiFi adapter is connected to the WiFi access point to measure signal strength and noise levels, as well as round-trip time, throughput rates, packet loss, re-transmissions and roaming performance. However, an active survey will give your school a more accurate indication of WiFi signal. During a passive survey, the site survey application passively listens to WLAN traffic, measuring signal strength and overlap between adjacent WiFi access points. By performing both an active and passive WiFi survey, we can report on potential issues beyond just signal coverage and an active survey will give a more accurate indication of WiFi signal.

Spectrum Analysis

We can provide a complete spectrum analysis which includes the detection, measurement and recording of RF interference that could degrade the performance of your wireless network. Interference such as microwaves or legacy wireless devices can have a serious impact on your WiFi network . During a post-installation survey we perform a spectrum analysis to highlight any interference detection from devices that are not transmitting constantly. We will conduct WiFi throughput testing which enables us to go one step further in verifying the actual capacity of your school’s WiFi network. Whilst a WiFi survey accurately determines connected data rate, performing a throughput test is a more accurate method for determining your WiFi network performance. We will provide all relevant configuration settings to maximise the performance and stability of your WiFi including radio channels, antennas and transmit power levels of each wireless access point to provide the most stability for your new WiFi design or new wireless network deployment.

If your school or college would like to book a WiFi survey, contact our sales team today.

With an increased focus on security within education, keeping your school safe is easy with our end-to-end network security. With today’s students always digitally connected and preoccupied with completing online school assignments, they’re unaware that an entire network in the backend is making all this possible. Education IT teams are tasked with not only keeping the network secure but also with protecting end-user devices and ensuring the physical and online safety of students and staff. All these serious responsibilities, paired with limited resources, create a challenge for education IT teams.

So how do you protect endpoints, networks, and students, all at the same time?

At Redway Networks, we partner with Cisco Meraki to provide our education customers with solutions that span all three areas for the safest campus environment. We can help your school or college manage all its security solutions from a single, web-based dashboard. This means you can simplify device, network, and security camera management through remote configurations, video monitoring, and application deployments. Your network will be safe from vulnerabilities, student data will be protected, and students will be safe walking around campus.

Network Security

Nearly 80% of headteachers believe their school faces and increased risk of a cyber incident and schools and colleges are becoming regular targets for cyber-attacks and many schools lack a cyber-security policy or the right training. Cyber criminals often gain access to private student data or important research, and threaten to share this sensitive information. The first line of defence comes by creating group or user-based policies for students, teachers, and staff, and restricting who can access various parts of the network. With integrated intrusion protection and malware scanning, users can easily stop malicious threats and files before they enter the network while prioritizing trusted educational applications with Layer 7 firewall and traffic shaping rules. With increased network visibility, you can track and shut down rogue access points, set up email alerts when rogues are detected, and contain rogue SSIDs, AP spoofs, and packet floods. Most importantly, with Meraki’s cloud-managed MX security solution, you can ensure the latest firmware updates are pushed to the network automatically to guard against the latest security threats and vulnerabilities.

Endpoint Security

As 1:1 programmes continue to grow and students bring more devices to campus endpoint security has become increasingly important. With an endpoint management solution, you can protect students of all ages from seeing inappropriate content, accessing blacklisted sites, and downloading unknown applications by using content filtering, group policies, and advanced malware protection. If a device is lost or stolen, especially one holding sensitive information, you can easily identify its location and retrieve it or remote wipe its contents. Most importantly, by protecting all the devices that students and teachers use every day, the network can remain secure from common endpoint security vulnerabilities.

Physical Security

Schools are tasked with providing safe learning environments for all students and teachers, without fear of trespassers, poor behaviour, or unforeseen incidents. With smarter security cameras, you can quickly identify when a person is where they shouldn’t be and view video analytics of school activity to identify high-risk areas. You can also help deter threats and incidents with the ability to quickly search recorded video and easily share with parents and law enforcement. With granular access controls and visibility from any Internet browser, teachers, principals, chancellors, and even the fire department can view groupings of cameras, or a single camera, and act accordingly. Plus, with video data encrypted at rest and during transport, you get even more protection against cyber threats.

To find out more about our portfolio of security solutions for schools, contact us today.

Across colleges and universities of all sizes and types, the need for modern WiFi solutions is clear. Further and Higher education caters to some of the UK’s most tech-savvy citizens – students. As part of the first generation to be digital natives from childhood, today’s college students have never known a world without the internet. In fact, 94 percent of adults aged 18 to 29 own a smartphone. As students arrive on campus, they expect instant connectivity — from streaming Netflix and playing video games to receiving notifications from mobile apps that guide them to their next class or inform them of relevant campus activities.

Just like the students they serve, college campuses are becoming more digital. Blended learning is booming (90% of college and university deans say their campuses will increase online learning over the next decade) and even traditional lecture halls and classrooms are suffused with digital content, such as video, lecture notes and other online curricular materials. Smart campus initiatives are automating a range of functions, and growing concerns about student safety are prompting a redoubled emphasis on both physical and cybersecurity.

WiFi is no longer an option

Tech-savvy students and smart campuses require a new kind of network, one which provides superior performance, scalability, reliability and manageability, while providing advanced analytics and automation. By addressing their network challenges, further and higher education institutions can position themselves to meet the needs of students and faculty for now and in the future.

Meraki meets the needs of today’s students and staff.

Colleges and universities are actively competing for students and confronting questions about the sustainability of the campus, all while tackling complex technology challenges. These key challenges include:

Student demands and expectations. Studies show students now bring an average of seven connected devices to campus, including mobile devices, laptops and computers, smart TVs and gaming consoles. One university, for example, has capped the maximum number of devices per student at 12 — a number that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago.

Students expect seamless connectivity everywhere they go on campus and enough bandwidth for work and play. As institutions compete for incoming students, reliable digital access is a must-have.

The campus experience. While connectivity is a requirement, digital services that accentuate the campus experience can be the differentiator that helps colleges and universities attract and retain students and faculty. Students expect simple online processes to register for classes and receive relevant information as they go about their daily tasks. Many colleges offer applications that notify students when their laundry is done, allow them to send assignments to the library printer remotely, and provide them with location-enabled alerts about events, directions and coupons as they walk by the bookstore or dining facilities.

Academic needs. Colleges and universities are developing plans to integrate digital content into traditional lecture halls and classrooms. Plus, online programs and blended learning opportunities allow students to livestream or view captured video
of lectures, removing worry of missed classes or snow days. For example, DeVry Education Group, a collection of eight institutions offering programs in business, health care, law and technology, plans to roll out video-connected classrooms where students can wirelessly connect to the whiteboard on their devices — whether they’re in or out of class.

Smart campuses. Today, more than eight in 10 higher education institutions are either using or plan to use Internet of Things (IoT) technology, according to CDE research. Many start with low-hanging fruit, such as adding internet-enabled controls to lighting, HVAC and other building systems to save costs. Plus, IoT will drive the connected services students and staff expect in their day-to-day experiences, from targeted notifications from appliances like washing machines and printers, to automatic notifications that can help students navigate academic buildings and learn about nearby activities and events. Doing so will dramatically increase the number of connected devices, increasing reliance on the network.

Security. Across campuses, there is an expectation to assure the physical safety of students and staff, as well as to protect both campus networks and the
confidential student information and research data they contain. Implicit in this is securing student and staff devices, as well as the growing number of IoT devices
— all of which are targets for malware and other cyber attacks. Institutions must balance the need for security with the need for students and staff to have access to relevant information.

Data, analytics and the cloud. As in the corporate world, the volume of available data on campuses creates new opportunities for analytics. In a 2017 CDE survey of 138 higher education officials, 46 percent said they were interested in implementing data analytics solutions and 64 percent identified data- driven decision-making as the top perceived benefit.

By choosing Cisco Meraki wireless access points, your college will benefit from increased network capacity and speed and central and local IT staff will have better network visibility through the web-based Meraki dashboard.

Contact us to find out how we can help your college with its Meraki deployment.

Pencils, paper and textbooks have been replaced with tablets, interactive boards, streaming video, augmented reality and building infrastructure IOT. Your schools and your students need robust and reliable WiFi to connect them to the world. They need a low risk path to migrate to WiFi 6 and integrate IOT networks, students, staff, faculty and guest access. And technology that is easy to use and affordable to meet budget constraints. WiFi is a means for students to grow their knowledge according to their capabilities. Online education resources enable personalised, self-paced learning to keep every student challenged and engaged. As a result, teachers can easily identify those who may be falling behind. Cambium meets all the expectations of primary schools as a low-cost solution for delivering a great digital learning environment.

That’s why we partner with Cambium Networks as combined with our wireless design expertise for a modern school, Cambium makes digital with WiFi easy and affordable.

Cambium makes it simple to maximise learning

Cambium is scalable with a variety of access point options

Cambium is an affordable solution with a low total cost of ownership

Latest technology with Cambium’s XE3-4 WiFi 6E Access Points

If you would like more information on a Cambium Networks solution for your primary school, or WiFi 6E access points, contact us today.

We frequently come across schools, businesses and organisations who are well aware of Cisco Meraki, but are unaware of its competitiveness against its industry peers. As a Gartner Magic Quadrant company, Meraki solutions come with the kind of superior experience you’d expect from a leader in networking and wireless technologies, but contrary to assumptions this does not mean exclusionary pricing or policies.

Below we answer the most frequently asked questions when it comes to Meraki licences, pricing, total cost of ownership (TCO) and security.

What options are there for licences with Meraki?

Meraki offer 1, 3, 5, 7 and 10 year terms, which include the total cost of ownership during these timeframes. One reason we highly recommend Meraki particularly to UK schools is because they only pay for 5 years when taking out a 10 year licence.

What does a Meraki license include?

A Meraki licence incorporates many line items you would see in other solutions wrapped into one, including:

How does Meraki compare in terms of affordability?

Why should I choose Meraki over a less expensive consumer grade solution?

Is Meraki secure?

Yes! Only configuration information passes through the cloud and all user data stays on the local network. If the internet connection goes down, the local area network (LAN) will stay up and running and you will still be able to access shared printers, files, etc. Configuration changes will just be queued until connection is restored (though changing configurations is usually not a priority when the internet is down).

What is on a Meraki BOM?

Each piece of hardware requires a license. For example, if you purchase 10 wireless access points, you will need 10 licenses.

What support will I get?

If you’d like to speak to us about a Meraki wireless solution, please get in touch with us so we can advise.

As experts in WiFi for schools, Redway Networks partners with a number of vendors to offer cloud-based wireless solutions with education environments in mind. We always focus on offering vendor-neutral, independent advice on each so that you can make the right choice for your school, academy or college, but it’s also important to consider that each partner has particular strengths.

One example is Cisco Meraki, who we often recommend to schools, academies and colleges for a number of reasons. Below our summary is Meraki’s video on why their solutions are aimed at the UK education sector.

Cloud security

Superior licence

High capacity/density

Agile management

Full stack solution

Video: Meraki for Education in the U.K.

From a wireless engineer’s perspective, I’ve found that designing WiFi for schools has changed considerably over the years. In the past, networks were designed so that every classroom had WiFi coverage. And coverage is still important, but with today’s education environment you also need to consider how many devices are simultaneously connecting to an access point. A single access point might be able to provide coverage to 3 or 4 classrooms, but can it provide capacity? With 1:1 computing you could easily have over 100 devices inside 3-4 classrooms, with a single access point being the bottleneck for all those devices. So, for this reason it’s vital that you consider capacity when designing your school’s new wireless network.

Which WiFi standard is right for 1:1 Computing?

There are 2 main choices when choosing a new WiFi network today. WiFi 5 (also known as “IEEE 802.11ac Very High Throughput”) or WiFi 6 (known as “IEEE 802.11ax High Efficiency). The clue is in the name, WiFi 5 was designed for high throughput whereas WiFi 6 was design for high efficiency. Whilst WiFi 6 does actually have higher levels of throughput it’s real strength is in capacity and being able to efficiency serve many more devices. Therefore, WiFi 6 is a must for 1:1 computing.

Data Throughput.

Let’s talk about data rates for a moment and let’s consider how much data a client device actually needs. For example, if you’re watching a YouTube video here is the recommended speeds:

As a simple example if we decide to limit a classroom to 5Mbps (1080p Video) and we have 30 devices in the classroom, that is a total of 150Mbps per classroom. So, it’s important that your access point is firstly able to cope with these speeds and secondly the signal strength inside the classroom is strong enough to deliver those speeds. We work hard to ensure our wireless designs meets the requirements needed for classrooms. This often involves using several different AP models to match the level of throughput required with each area.

How many APs is too many?

A false myth is that adding more APs is the solution to a high-capacity network. A popular example of this is the cookie cutter design of 1 AP per classroom. This is not true, WiFi has a limited number of channels that can be used so you have to carefully consider channel widths, channel re-use and interference when planning your network. The solution to a high-capacity network is a good design.

The importance of AP placement.

In schools I often see APs placed on walls and whilst this works it’s not the ideal placement for most APs. APs are mostly designed to be ceiling mounted and this does have an impact on performance. Below is a sample throughput reading taken from a Meraki MR36 access point (simulated in Ekahau). The first is mounted on the ceiling and the second is mounted on the wall. As you can see it has real impact on the performance of the access point.

Ceiling Mounted AP

WiFi Throughput Wall Mounted AP

School WiFi is unique

I’m often asked to explain the difference to installing WiFi within a school than say an office and I always say the biggest differences are capacity and security. Schools need to make sure their wireless network has the capacity to deal with high-density demands whilst still delivering a superior performance that will not interrupt teaching and learning. Also, in an office environment it is common to have open SSID for guest users, with trust given to employees that this SSID will not be abused. In a school the levels of safeguarding and security must be raised to ensure the network is being used in the way it was intended. Our highly technical consultants focus on supporting our clients at every stage of a WiFi project to guarantee the WiFi performance the school needs not just for now but in the future. With WiFi 6 you can literally future proof your network for years to come so it’s a great investment for education.

I always get asked which enterprise wireless technology is the best fit for education and there’s no answer to this. That’s why we spend time with our clients to determine their exact requirements and select a product that fits their exact needs and budget using our partnerships with the world’s leading vendors. However, I have summmarised the strengths of each vendor here.

Cisco Meraki
The Meraki Dashboard gives excellent visibility of the network and despite the vast amount of information gathered it remains one of the most intuitive and easy to use controllers on the market. What’s also really appealing about Meraki is its range of networking products include access points, switches, firewall and others. These are excellent products and can all be managed via the Meraki Dashboard.

Extreme Networks
Extreme has an exceptionally feature rich solution which gives you a huge amount of flexibility with your WiFi deployment and configuration. Extreme also has a free cloud offering for schools that don’t require the advanced feature set, so you get the best of both worlds.

If your school is planning a new wireless network and would like advice from Lee please contact us.

Following the expansion of 1:1 Computing, Redway Network’s wireless expert Lee Wright answers questions on how to improve your college or school WiFi.

What does Redway Networks offer to schools and colleges?

We deliver bespoke wireless solutions that support all the high-density connectivity needs of educational establishments today. These enterprise-grade solutions can be managed remotely so schools have complete network security and peace of mind.

Explain the difference to installing WiFi within a school than an office?

The biggest differences are capacity and security. For example, a classroom can easily have 30+ active devices connected to the WiFi, whereas an office of the same size might only have 6-10 desks. Schools need to make sure their wireless network has the capacity to deal with all those clients and still deliver a superior performance that won’t interrupt teaching and learning. In addition, in an office environment it is common to have open SSID for guest users, with trust given to employees that this SSID won’t be abused. In a school the levels of safeguarding and security have to be raised to ensure the network is being used in the way it was intended.

What challenges do education establishments typically come up against?

The schools and colleges we work with want to improve WiFi connectivity in terms of performance, coverage, and capacity. They also want to achieve better visibility and management of the network – all whilst working within a budget. We have the tools to design a wireless network that delivers hyper-reliable school WiFi. We use our education sector experience and in-depth product knowledge to find the right vendor that meets both the budget and technology requirements of our customers.

How does Redway help schools and colleges choose the right wireless technology?

We spend a lot of time working with schools to understand their requirements. We have also invested a lot of time and money in training with many of the world’s leading wireless technology vendors. All our engineers are qualified to the highest standards and understand that every school is diverse and every WiFi vendor is different. It’s only when you understand both fully, you can make the expert decision in finding the right overall WiFi solution.

Explain what makes Redway’s wireless solutions stand out.

Definitely our educational sector knowledge and our focus on customer engagement – we call it the ‘Redway Experience’. We have a highly technical sales team which means that from the first conversation we have with our clients, they feel confident in our ability to understand their needs and advise the next steps. We focus on consulting our clients at every stage of an installation to make sure their input helps drive the project forward. We also understand that a WiFi solution is only a real success when it responds to our clients’ needs; not when we complete the installation. Our engineers offer extensive post-installation support that guarantees the performance the school or college needs beyond project completion.

Do you have any tips to give schools looking to improve WiFi connectivity?

Yes definitely, my top 5 would be:

1. Ensure whoever you work with has taken the correct steps in designing your network.
2. Make sure you understand the WiFi vendor you’re using. Are they the best fit for your needs?
3. Validate the design after installation with a site survey
4. Ensure you understand how to use your WiFi controller so you can monitor performance over time.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Can you provide a recent example of helping a school with digital transformation?

Yes, Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School. Its current wireless network couldn’t support its technology and capacity needs and this was limiting digital teaching and learning. With the school closed due to COVID-19, we conducted a heat mapping survey to configure the WiFi infrastructure. Once the design was agreed and the technology chosen, we installed a hyper-reliable WiFi 6 solution that will enable technology-driven teaching and learning for years to come.

About Lee

Lee Wright is an expert in designing and installing cloud-managed enterprise-grade wireless solutions. In addition to his sector and technical product knowledge, he holds the following wireless qualifications: Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA), Certified Wireless Design Professional (CWDP) and Certified Wireless Security Professional (CWSP).

If you would like advice on how to improve your school WiFi, Lee is currently offering a free remote heat mapping survey to offer guidance and advice. This can be booked by contacting us.

With remote learning becoming more common than ever, schools need to ensure that students using mobile devices are filtered, reported on and kept safe wherever they are.

If your school has been relying on an appliance or firewall for web filtering, you might not be getting the right control and monitoring that you need, and it might be the right time to switch to the cloud.

With our partners Lightspeed Systems, we’re holding a short online webinar on 16 June, 2pm + co-hosted by AWS (Amazon Web Services), where we’ll show you:

– How to ensure end-to-end protection without hardware

– Why firewall filtering falls short on mobile devices

– How to keep students safe on any device, anywhere, any time

– The essential reports you need to protect students and drive engagement

This webinar will be held on Tuesday 16th June at 2pm and you can sign up here.

We partner with the leading technology companies like Lightspeed Systems to bring our customers the best in innovative education solutions. Lightspeed works with schools to ensure that they have all the customisable filtering and reporting they need, through the lock-down and beyond.

With the ever-increasing possibility of schools remaining closed until the end of the school year, educational wireless experts Redway Networks and top EdTech solution provider Lightspeed Systems are hosting a webinar to assist schools with their remote learning. This free online webinar will take place on Tuesday 19 May 2020 between 1 – 1:45 pm and schools can register here.

The webinar will focus on how schools can make remote learning safer by keeping devices monitored through web filtering software, which prevents access to inappropriate content.

To demonstrate its commitment to protect students during school closures, Lightspeed and Redway are also offering Relay Classroom Management and Relay Web Filtering solutions free until the end of the school year to all schools impacted by the Coronavirus. If your school would like to take advantage of this great offer, please contact us.

The webinar agenda will include:

• How Lightspeed’s revolutionary Smart Agents keep any device safe on Google, YouTube and more.
• Time and location-based policies.
• Safety checks for at risk students.
• Comprehensive and shareable reporting for admin and parents.
• Classroom for remote lessons, including screen viewing, sharing and more.
• New features and functions for existing Relay customers.

Register your place today and we look forward to seeing you virtually.