Trends | Survey Says Wireless Networks Expand for Mobile Growth

Colleges are expanding wireless network offerings to facilitate mobile device and multimedia traffic growth. Aruba Networks on Tuesday (October 18, 2011) released the results of an October 2011 survey of approximately 300 U.S. colleges and universities designed to determine higher education IT priorities for 2012. The survey clearly shows that institutions of higher learning are scaling back wired LANs to expand their wireless network offerings and capabilities. Survey respondents estimated a 60 percent increase in the number of mobile devices on campus this year, compared to last year. Multimedia applications are a strong driver for WLAN growth and upgrade, with 38.5 percent of surveyed institutions currently using their WLAN for classroom video and 31.4 percent having already deployed voice over WLAN.   

WLAN Upgrades the Top Priority This Year. In response to the question, “What major IT initiatives do you expect to be prioritized for 2012?”, “802.11 wireless upgrades” was the top response at 51.2 percent. Only 28.3 percent of respondents said that “Wired/Ethernet upgrades” would be prioritized in the coming year. Respondents also noted that, on average, 51.9 percent of their existing wireless networks had already been upgraded to 802.11n.

WLAN Budgets Up, Wired LAN Budgets Down. Regarding budget, 83.1 percent of respondents said that their IT budgets for would be flat to down, with only 24.9 percent expecting their budgets to grow. When asked about specific areas of their infrastructure, 40.6 percent said their wireless LAN budgets would increase, while only 11.6 percent said that their wired LAN/Ethernet budget would grow. The 30 percent of respondents who said they had conducted a recent port usage analysis reported that, on average, only 56.4 percent of wired Ethernet ports had seen any use over the sample timeframe.

Survey Respondent Profile. Respondents included 23.9 percent senior executives (VP, director, CTO, CIO, etc.), 36.2 percent managers (IT manager, IT project manager, etc.) and 32.4 percent engineers/technicians. Of 298 schools represented, 31 percent have student bodies of more than 15,000, 17.6 percent have between 7,000 and 15,000 students, 29.7 percent have between 2,001 and 7,000, 17.2 percent had less than 2,000 and 5.4 percent had less than 500.

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