Nov 06 2014

Two Rugged APs That Can Move Class Outside

New wireless technologies are allowing teachers to think outside the box — and the classroom.

With E-Rate 2.0 funding beginning to trickle into school districts, schools may want to change their Wi-Fi coverage plans.

E-Rate, formally known as the Universal Service Fund’s Schools and Libraries Program, provides discounts on telecommunications and Internet equipment. The Federal Communications Commission recently reformed the program and announced an additional $2 billion in funding over the next two years to target broadband and Wi-Fi upgrades at schools across the country. The reforms were significant enough that the FCC began referring to the upgrade as E-Rate 2.0.

Communications industry analyst Zeus Kerravala wrote in a July blog post for Network World that teachers should take this opportunity to expand their wireless horizons and consider the benefits of deploying outdoor access points (APs).

"Students learn outside the school as well as in. Projects for some classes are often done outside, and students need connectivity to work on them. Consider the track and gym, as there are a bunch of athletic and training applications available today," Kerravala wrote.

This month, Cisco and Netgear announced details for new, ruggedized 802.11n APs able to withstand the elements and still deliver solid Wi-Fi connections. These APs are designed to be ideal for outdoor areas needing high-throughput and high-capacity coverage.

Cisco’s Aironet 1530 series outdoor AP comes with a “liquid-tight gland” capable of sealing the cable’s entry point from precipitation, according to the model’s technical specifications.

Netgear’s WND930 is the company’s first outdoor AP. It was designed with K–12 schools in mind, according to THE Journal. It's capable of booting in environmental temperatures below 0 degrees Celcius, thanks to an internal heater that warms up components.