Dec 18 2017

Review: Extreme Networks Pairs Camera with Wireless Access Point to Boost Safety

This first-of-its-kind device does double duty for K–12 schools.

Providing a safe, effective place to learn is the goal of every educational institution. However, the larger and more sprawling the school, whether horizontally over many buildings or vertically through multiple floors, the more difficult those goals become. Adding more cameras can improve security, but networking them together isn’t always easy. And more space creates more challenges in coverage and connectivity.

Seemingly designed with educational users in mind, theExtremeWireless 3916ic indoor camera access point from Extreme Networks is a tool that addresses both connectivity and security objectives. An advanced access point offers 802.11ac Wave 2 wireless networking, while a mounted security camera provides high-resolution images.

Camera APs Let K–12 Maximize the Device's Use

Setup of the 3916ic AP is extremely easy. It has several mounting options for walls or flat surfaces and can safely attach to a drop ceiling. Once in place, the camera can rotate 360 degrees and move 112 degrees vertically, so it can point its gaze wherever needed. A user can lock down the camera with a thumbscrew to prevent an unauthorized person from rotating the camera out of position. A Kensington lock slot serves to deter theft.

Because the 3916ic AP is Wave 2 networking gear, it can handle more users simultaneously. In testing, the device was able to make use of its entire gigabit bandwidth channel (somewhere around 960 megabits), even with ­multiple users and devices vying for a share of the pipeline.

The ­camera is able to record high-resolution images and, thanks to an infrared mode, works well in low-light ­conditions. An integrated microphone complements the recorded video so security staff can hear what’s happening.

The camera uses the same LAN cable as the AP, and both share a power cord. Although a user can configure the device positioning, it’s not ruggedized against water or temperature, so it is best suited for indoor environments.

Because this combination device is new to the market, it’s likely that many IT professionals have never considered pairing a security camera with an AP. But in educational environments that make ample use of both tools, combining connectivity and security is a smart move with the 3916ic AP.

Acess Point Gives More Users Better Connections

Obviously, adding a security camera to a wireless access point is the most notable feature of the Extreme Networks Wireless AP 3916ic. But the AP is impressive on its own merit. It makes use of the new Wave 2 with multiple user, multiple input and multiple output (MU-MIMO) technology, enabling more users to get better connectivity for their wireless devices.

The AP allows up to three MU-MIMO–enabled devices to communicate using dedicated bandwidth with faster download speeds. It’s basically a reserved lane for devices that can take advantage of the new technology. Almost all new laptops and tablets are MU-MIMO compatible.

Giving the first three users who connect dedicated bandwidth may not seem like much, but as they disconnect or move into a new AP zone, their reserve slots open back up. The AP’s native intelligence lets it prioritize users running the most bandwidth-intensive applications and seamlessly move them into those dedicated connections, getting them out of the main bandwidth pool and preventing the apps from bogging down the entire AP.

In fact, without MU-MIMO, it’s almost impossible to utilize the entire gigabit pipeline on most APs. MU-MIMO fixes this by basically tapping into that unused part of the bandwidth stream to provide the dedicated connections, freeing up the rest of the pipeline for everyone else. When tested, the AP 3916ic could provide its entire bandwidth stream to devices in the trial network.

Using Wave 2 results in a faster and more reliable Wi-Fi signal can completely open the gigabit wireless pipeline, increasing performance for all connected devices and granting priority access to the most important or bandwidth-intensive applications using each AP. It may not be as visible as the new security camera, but it should prove even more important as it provides good wireless connectivity to students, faculty and staff.

ExtremeWireless 3916ic AP

Access Point: 802.11ac Wave 2
Maximum Wireless Users: 480
Camera: 2MP CMOS image sensor
Minimum Resolution: 1920x1080
Field of View: 112 degrees
Dimensions: 6.5x4.4 inches

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