New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology goes high speed

Student residences at the Manhattan-based Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) have gained high performance wireless internet access with a new IEEE 802.11n draft 2.0 wireless LAN from Meru Networks.

The new Meru 802.11n WLAN, based on Meru’s virtualised wireless architecture, expands and upgrades the existing Meru wireless network first installed in 2004 in academic buildings on FIT’s West 27th Street campus in Chelsea.

By the end of 2009, FIT, part of the State University of New York (SUNY) expects to complete an upgrade of its entire wireless network to 11n, bringing campus-wide high performance access to the school’s 10,000 students at five times the access speed of earlier 802.11a/b/g standards.

Gregg Chottiner, FIT’s vice president of information technology and chief information officer, said the school’s strategic goal is to make the whole campus wireless.

“We’re looking to wireless as the network infrastructure of the future,” Chottiner said. “As parts of our wired infrastructure reach end of life, rather than replacing them we will use wireless as our primary vehicle for data access, and even voice and video. This will save on capital costs, since we won’t have to keep expanding our switching closets and installing all the associated cabling.”

Student needs drove the move to wireless in FIT dormitories, Chottiner explained. “Students were having to plug their laptops into network jacks that would break or become hidden as furniture was moved around. They wanted the flexibility to work in the hallways or in collaboration areas or in each others’ rooms. The Meru wireless LAN lets them do all these things.”

Cementing the decision to upgrade to products based on the high performance 802.11n standard, Chottiner said, was the fact that as an art and design school FIT often requires its students to work with large, complex file formats such as AutoCAD and Adobe CS4 that include large numbers of high resolution images. “The kids access these resources in their classrooms and labs, and then bring the work back to the dorms on their laptops,” he said. “802.11n provides all the bandwidth they need for these applications.”