Case Study: AP Classification for Schools

For many schools the wireless network is more than an occasional nicety. It’s now a critical part of many lesson plans, as well as required for multiple administrative tasks, and sometimes even school security.  It’s paramount that the network work reliably and consistently, constantly providing optimized service no matter what is asked of it.

The Need: WiFi Free from Interference

Wireless ecosystems are dynamic.  They must be monitored at all times for changes in performance that can be caused by almost anything.  Some commonly discussed issues include:

  • Outdated infrastructure
  • Interference from overlapping channels, from nearby networks, or from non-WiFi sources like microwaves
  • A mismatch between client and access point (AP) compatibility
  • Too many devices on one AP
  • Security issues from open ports

However, there’s another issue that can cause havoc in schools, and it’s one that not too many school administrators are aware of: student disguised hotspots.

The Issue: Mobile Hotspots

A mobile hotspot is a feature on most smartphones that allows the phone to be turned into an AP.  With this feature, the phone is used to provide internet access to laptops, tablets, or other mobile devices.  

Mobile hotspots are often slower than the schools’ WiFi networks and they don’t always offer client devices the best connection.  They can cause the following issues:

  1. If students knowingly or accidentally connect to the hotspot (for example, if it’s named after the school’s network and working in disguise), the hotspot’s poor performance can cause problems with online tests, e-learning apps, or other student WiFi activities.  
  2. Students who know the hotspot isn’t connected to the school’s network can circumvent school network policies and access sites that would otherwise be blocked.
  3. The hotspot isn’t configured with the school network’s security protocols. This can result in private data being put at risk if teachers or administrators unknowingly connect to it.
  4. The hotspot can cause network interference by using a channel that is allocated for the school’s WiFi.  This leads to a competition for air time between devices connected to the mobile hotspot and devices connected to the school’s APs. The resulting slow transmission times affect teachers, students, and staff even if they aren’t connected to the rogue device.

The Solution: The Wireless Intelligence Platform’s AP Classification

The award winning, patented Wireless Intelligence Platform (WIP) automatically identifies all access points as soon as they start projecting a WiFi signal. Using device fingerprinting, WIP automatically classifies the APs as either Mine, Known, Unknown, or Unauthorized.  IT teams receive instant, automatic alert notifications for any Unknown or Unauthorized APs.

Thanks to these alerts, IT can quickly review any new APs and take steps to remove them from the network, if necessary.  With a rapid resolution, no students, teachers, or administrators are negatively impacted.

It’s this autonomic, AI-based WiFi Assurance that makes WIP a great asset for any school.  With WIP, schools see:

  • A 90% decrease in time spent resolving IT issues
  • A 50% decrease in WiFi problem tickets
  • An 80% decrease in remote site visits

Bring WIP to your school and experience optimized WiFi reliability, performance and visibility thanks to complete WiFi ecosystem visibility, and proactive 24/7 detection, notification, and mitigation of current and potential issues.

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