University of Birmingham delivers campus-wide Wi-Fi

Foundry Networks has announced that the University of Birmingham is installing its IronPoint Mobility Series of access points (APs) and controllers in a major replacement and expansion programme to provide complete Wi-Fi coverage by the end of 2008 at its main 250 hectare Edgbaston campus, the 80 hectare Selly Oak campus and at the affiliated Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon. This makes the project one of the largest deployments of Wi-Fi within a UK university to date.

Often dubbed the Venice of the North, given the miles of canals, Birmingham is home to one of the biggest and most prestigious Universities in the UK with around 30,000 students, 6,000 staff and an income exceeding £354 million. Ranking 5th in the UK for research excellence and a member of The Russell Group[1], the University of Birmingham was founded in 1904 and has a long history of innovation – its academics discovered Vitamin C, invented heart valves, weighed the earth and harnessed the power of the microwave.

John Turnbull, the University of Birmingham’s head of networks in the IT Services department, says: “Our Wi-Fi strategy is to ensure staff, students and visitors to the university have the best experience of using our network in the whole of UK academia. Given our policy is not to allow open network access, this means straightforward registration and authentication with enough capacity to ensure fast and extensive coverage.”

In a phased approach first beginning three years ago, the university initially installed Foundry IronPoint access points in select student congregation areas such as main lecture theatres, libraries, coffee areas, some class rooms and certain open air spaces. Chris Lea, senior network specialist explains: “The goal posts with providing coverage are always moving as new applications and devices launch with Wi-Fi. Phase one is complete and our policy now in phase two is to offer full building and campus coverage including sports fields and walkways, upgrading the previous generation of Foundry access points installed in the process.”