Mar 30 2022

Linksys Wi-Fi 5 Outdoor Wireless Access Point Supports Learning in the Great Outdoors

The Linksys outdoor wireless access point is designed to provide students and staff with connectivity in any climate, anywhere on school grounds.

Over the course of the pandemic, the disruption of activities within education has been particularly far-reaching. In the K–12 realm, students are tentatively returning to their classrooms after another year of COVID-19, but they are hardly finding the same routines in place as when they left. Some schools are making use of every available space, including nontraditional classrooms such as hallways and the outdoor parts of school grounds.

Most elementary, middle and high schools have access to large outdoor spaces used for recess or sports activities. The new Linksys AC1300 Wi-Fi 5 Outdoor Wireless Access Point is designed to provide those spaces with seamless, full access to a school’s network resources and even the internet.

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Power Over Ethernet Allows for Easy Outdoor Setup

The device itself consists of a rugged access point with an IP67 rating, meaning that it can operate unharmed by blowing dust or by precipitation. You can mount it on a pole in the middle of a playground or on the side of a building and it will work just fine. It comes with four detachable antennas that provide multiple wireless channels in the 2.4-gigahertz and 5GHz bands. Those can support streams of 400 megabits per second and 867Mbps, respectively, which would support high-quality video streaming.

UP NEXT: Make these considerations when creating innovative learning spaces in K–12 schools.

Setup of the device is extremely easy. It supports Power over Ethernet, so the same network line that provides internet connectivity can also supply power. There is no need to run potentially dangerous power cables outside a building.

Once the device is mounted, you can fully configure and manage it remotely using the Linksys Cloud Manager 2.0 software. This is perfect for schools, since physical maintenance staff can install the wireless access point and then automatically turn over management functions to the IT team.

Cloud-Managed Access Points Provide Strong Outdoor Signals

Since IT teams can fully manage the device from the cloud, they don’t have to go outside to change settings or troubleshoot. Administrators can add password protection at the most basic level but also have access to advanced functions such as prioritizing bandwidth based on users, times of day or applications.

IT teams can even change the wireless AP’s behavior to provide restricted access during school hours, then open things up more to the public in the evenings, which could provide internet access to students and their families in underserved areas or with low bandwidth access.

RELATED: 12 million students lack adequate internet access at home.

Because of the multiple channels and internal management, the Linksys AC1300 can provide very strong signals. I tested multiple devices up to 120 feet away from the wireless AP, and all constantly maintained high bandwidth without disruption.

The Linksys AC1300 Wi-Fi 5 Outdoor Wireless Access Point is ready for enrollment at any K–12 school that needs to turn its outdoor spaces into connected classrooms.

Linksys Access Point specs

 

Teach and Learn in the Rain or Sunshine

The Linksys AC1300 Wi-Fi 5 Outdoor Wireless Access Point is a powerful wireless AP. But the key feature that makes it stand out from the pack is the fact that it’s designed to operate outdoors. To test the device, I installed it in an outdoor test bed. The wireless AP had limited shelter during the weekslong testing period and for the most part was fully exposed to the elements.

The wireless AP is rated at IP67, which is the highest you can get for most consumer devices. The 6 in IP67 means that the device is totally protected from the effects of blowing dust or other particles, so any vulnerable internal components are completely sealed from the outside. The 7 in IP67 means that it can also survive water falling over it, such as in the case of rain or wind-blown rain. Technically, it also should be able to survive up to 30 minutes fully submerged in water, though that aspect was never tested.

The one concerning environmental factor with the Linksys AC1300 is that its operating temperature is rated for use between 32 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Most places in the United States would not hit the high end, but for much of the country, dipping below 32 is a common occurrence in winter. I assumed that the rating was very conservative and installed the wireless AP outside anyway. The first day of the test, the temperature was 16 degrees, far below the rated minimum temperature.

As mentioned above, setup of the wireless AP was extremely easy using Power over Ethernet and configuration via the cloud. After that, I connected several devices with the AP every day to conduct bandwidth and speed tests.

MORE ON EDTECH: IoT technology makes gains in K–12 classrooms.

During testing, the device was subjected to sustained low temperatures and both light and heavy rain. There was even a snowstorm at one point, and a little pile of wet, white flakes piled up on an exposed part of the device’s casing. It survived all of that and continued to operate.

In fact, at no point did any environmental factors affect its performance. It was able to maintain full connectivity to all devices on the test bed, delivering the same performance weeks later as when it was first installed.

SPECIFICATIONS

Device Type: Outdoor Wireless Access Point
Wireless Signals: 2.4GHz, 5GHz
Data Rates: Up to 1300 Mbps
Security: WPA2 PSK/Enterprise
Rugged Rating: IP67
Dimensions: 4.4x6.8x1.2 inches
Weight: 10.4 ounces

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