Wincheap Foundation Primary School is situated on the outskirts of Canterbury on a large site with its own playing fields. Offering a broad and balanced curriculum with an emphasis on sport and the expressive art and with 400 pupils aged between 4-11, it is vital that the school has an extensive wireless network and the correct infrastructure in place to best serve the network demands of its pupils.
Following a recommendation from Instacomm Network Installations Ltd with whom the school have enjoyed a ten year relationship, Wincheap started to use D-Link networking equipment back in 2008, as it transitioned to a managed Wi-Fi system to drive computer-based learning and replace teacher workstations with staff laptops.
In the years that followed electronic learning has become more embedded within the learning environment and the D-Link solution has evolved accordingly. In 2012, a further 20 wireless N access points were added to support the trial use of 15 iPads and cater for the extra demand on the network by boosting speed and coverage.
With 102 iPads now in use and expected to rise, the school plays host to a total of 200 connected devices (including laptops and computers), a significant hike from the 20 in place in 2008. To manage this volume and traffic the school turned to D-Link again to drive a significant infrastructure upgrade with the implementation of its high-speed Wireless AC Router. Wireless AC offers speeds of up to 1.3 Gigabits per second whereas Wireless N offers 0.45 Gigabits per second, with up to 3x more capability the schools network has improved in speed dramatically.
Phil Wilson, Senior ICT & Performing Arts Technician at Wincheap School provides an insight into the drivers behind the school’s decision to upgrade its wireless network. "iPad’s were initially on trial with one year group as their teacher was an advocate for this variation of learning. This has since proven to be very successful and that number has increased year on year. Due to the dramatic increase in devices across the school it was essential for us to upgrade our wireless infrastructure, our experience to date with D-Link and its products made it an easy decision for us when upgrading"
Half of the access points at Wincheap School have now been upgraded from wireless N to wireless AC (DWL-8610), with plans afoot to make the full transition to this model in the near future.
"Since upgrading 10 of the 20 access points on site as well as the wireless controller, we have benefited from a far greater capacity in terms of the number of devices we now have and the wireless speeds we can now achieve," said Phil. "The wireless N access points of which we still have 10 installed have only needed minor repairs since their installation. However wireless AC is tailored to deal with a far greater number of devices, we’ll look to make the full transition to wireless AC across the board next year."
As a robust and reliable solution, designed to ease network congestion, this not only enables greater speeds it also allows for more devices to connect to the network seamlessly. Furthermore, it has resulted in the school upgrading its wireless controller to D-Link’s latest unified wireless controller (DWC-2000) and the improvement has made a significant impact.
The DWC-2000 provides the school with centralised monitoring and management and with features such as self-healing wireless ensures that Wincheap has a network that provides fast, seamless roaming. Phil notes the impact of the new controller, "moving across to the DWC-2000 has been very beneficial. This has particularly improved the electronic register process and the teaching staff have all recognised the improvement and the speed in which they can register all their pupils. Ultimately this has improved the ability to manage the network here at Wincheap and this allows for more time to be spent teaching, rather than spent dealing with technical issues."
With the increase in devices across Wincheap it was essential for the school network to be as reliable and robust as possible. The new access points and the DWC-2000 have provided this, giving Wincheap a scalable, managed wireless solution as well as being more prepared to meet the demands of an increasingly multimedia environment which is expected to be more prevalent in the near future.
Phil provides an overview to date. "Since working with D-Link they have been very responsive in reacting to any enquiries we may have. Kevin Dibble from Instacomm is quite an advocate of the D-Link system and his enthusiasm and knowledge reassured us that this would be the best and most appropriate system to cater for Wincheap School and its pupils.
"D-Link they have been very responsive in reacting to any enquiries we may have. Kevin Dibble from Instacomm is quite an advocate of the D-Link system and his enthusiasm and knowledge reassured us that this would be the best and most appropriate system to cater for Wincheap School and its pupils." — Phil Wilson, Senior ICT & Performing Arts Technician at Wincheap School