For the 119th U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach, Cisco delivered the most connected U.S. Open in history. With over 200,000 expected in attendance, the USGA wanted to provide new ways for fans to consume and share content, both on-site and around the world. As 156 golfers and hundreds of thousands of fans walked the course, Meraki provided first of its kind, course-wide Wi-Fi. This included wireless for indoor, outdoor, and the first-ever test of Wi-Fi 6 access points at a major sporting event.
“For the first time ever, thanks to Cisco, we had the confidence that our fans would be able to stay connected to all the action inside the ropes and with friends and family back home no matter where they went on the course.” – Amanda Weiner, Senior Director, Digital Media, USGA
Hundreds of access points were deployed in a matter of days to blanket an ultra high density environment, and close to 39TB of internet traffic was transferred during the event. 70,000 unique clients roamed across the four-mile long Pebble Beach course, during a nationally televised event with 32 million people watching.
While Meraki Access Points are deployed in stadiums, golf courses add several unique challenges. These include the size of the course, weather conditions, and variability of Wi-Fi hot zones. Physical mounting, directional antennas, and RF settings must be configured to ensure a seamless fan experience. In addition, high-density areas like the media center and U.S. Open merchandise tent needed to be carefully planned to ensure high performance. The onsite media center at the course required connectivity for over 2,000 daily unique clients.
With Meraki Wi-Fi as the first point of network access across the course, we were able to introduce a number of innovative features within our U.S. Open App and video boards to enhance the fan experience.” – Amanda Weiner, Senior Director, Digital Media, USGA
The visibility of the Meraki dashboard and simplicity of configuring Wi-Fi was critical in delivering the connected course. The team was able to detect hot zones, deploy and tune the entire network in under a week. New Wi-Fi 6 APs were installed to allow the high density merchandise pavilion on the course to transfer close to 3TB of data. We will be hosting a live webinar with USGA on October 22nd, to understand their technology strategy, and learn how the Meraki Wi-Fi network helped deliver a connected fan experience.
From move-in day to graduation day, students require reliable Wi-Fi to be successful. Not only does Wi-Fi enable effective collaboration and creativity, but it can also be a driver to attract and retain students and faculty to campus. As the need for seamless connectivity on college and university campuses continues to expand, are schools measuring up to student expectations? We wanted to find out.
In partnership with the Center for Digital Education, Cisco Meraki conducted two surveys, one of higher education decision-makers and one of college students — to better understand students’ habits and needs regarding network use and technology and how that compares to what their counterparts in leadership perceive. We asked almost identical questions of these two audiences and compared the results.
The results were fascinating. While the full survey report outlines many interesting findings, three key things stood out that warranted further analysis:
1. Students aren’t utilizing campus to its full potential because of unreliable Wi-Fi
We asked students where they complete their school work and use Wi-Fi the most. We then asked higher education leaders where they think students complete their school work and use the Wi-Fi the most. Both audiences were also asked how reliable they thought the Wi-Fi was in those areas. Surprisingly, the study showed a large discrepancy between the students actual Wi-Fi use and the leaders perception of what the students use. While the vast majority of students ranked the school library, on campus housing, and off-campus housing as the top three locations to work and use Wi-Fi, the leaders listed study rooms and dining/common areas as primary student work locations. Why aren’t students completing school work and using Wi-Fi in all of the areas leadership thinks they are?
When asked how reliable the Wi-Fi was in the same locations, the discrepancy was shocking. In every location highlighted, more than half of leaders thought Wi-Fi was very reliable, yet less than 25% of students thought so (with the exception of the library). More specifically, 40% of leadership versus 22% of students think Wi-Fi is highly reliable in dorms and 42% of leadership think Wi-Fi is somewhat reliable outdoors, while 57% of students say there is no outdoor Wi-Fi. To top it off, when students were asked “What technology would you like to see your campus provide to enhance the student experience?” the top answer, getting 54% of the responses, was reliable Wi-Fi.
While students want to seamlessly roam from their dorm room, to class, to the outdoor quad and have reliable connections in order to socialize and work, this isn’t being provided to the standard students expect. In order to provide the best experience for students, reliable Wi-Fi everywhere on campus is key.
2. While Wi-Fi is important, schools can’t forget about the wired network
Students are bringing more and more wireless devices with them to campus, especially when they live in dorms. On average, students who live on campus bring 9 devices with them to school, while those who commute bring an average of 3. The survey showed that students and higher education leaders were aligned on the top two devices students bring to campus (laptops and smartphones), but the third device was surprising. For students living on campus, 43% bring a desktop computer, a large difference from the 18% predicted by education leaders. Instead, leadership overestimated students bringing other wireless technologies, like tablets, video game consoles, and smart watches.
While the number of wireless technologies students bring to school will continue to increase, schools can’t forget about the wired network. Students still demand a wired connection, especially in their dorm rooms. Plus, a reliable network backbone is key to supporting high-density wireless access points everywhere on campus. Ensuring the underlying wired network is ready for what students will throw at it is just as important as the wireless.
3. Improving campus Wi-Fi can greatly reduce the number of help desk tickets
Students on average submit 11 help desk tickets per year, on par with higher education leaders’ estimations of 13 tickets a year. This means that students are submitting help desk tickets around once a month, and when you multiply that by the number of students, the amount of tickets is staggering. It’s no surprise that students and leaders agree that most tickets are submitted when the Wi-Fi goes down.
By providing always-on connections, students will complain less about the Wi-Fi and in turn, submit less tickets. This not only saves on IT resources, but gives those teams time back in their day to work on more proactive and impactful projects that can benefit the university.
Overall, the surveys found that students want to see reliable Wi-Fi on campus to enhance their experience, and they are not getting the always-on connection higher education leaders believe they’re providing. But it’s not too late to turn this around – higher education institutions can start by evaluating solutions that provide the access students deserve, while being easier for the IT team to set up and manage.
Step anywhere on Butler University’s campus and you’ll see students swaying in hammocks in the outdoor quad, collaborating in large lecture halls, and cheering on the Butler Bulldogs at Hinkle Fieldhouse, all with a cell phone or laptop in hand. Butler was founded on the idea that everyone deserves access to a quality education, so it’s no surprise that the University’s leaders strive to provide equal access to all students and faculty by supplying campus-wide Wi-Fi. With more than 1,300 Cisco Meraki indoor and outdoor access points (APs) deployed across the campus, students can seamlessly connect wherever they are with no interruption to their education. The wireless upgrade also provided many unforeseen benefits to the IT team, directly impacting how they spend their time to improve everyday student life including ease of deployment, providing reliable connections, and gaining access to actionable insights.
Connecting 100,000 devices with the cloud-managed Wi-Fi
To the IT team’s surprise, the group who installed the cloud-managed access points didn’t need to have deep technical knowledge. The team deploying the APs comprised of both full-time IT staff and student workers, who together were able to deploy all 1,300+ APs across the campus in less than two weeks. This was made possible because of the cloud-managed Meraki dashboard, which allowed IT to preconfigure the devices before they arrived. They also used configuration templates, allowing the team to apply the same configuration to hundreds of devices and install them for immediate use. This enabled the student workers to simply plug the devices in and they were ready for use. In the last year since the deployment, over 100,000 devices have traversed the network, which has worked seamlessly for users.
High density with automated assurance
Once the deployment was complete, it was immediately apparent that connections were more reliable, there was better coverage, and more robust troubleshooting tools were available for faster time to resolution. Students now have the same experience using their laptops in their dorm room as they do in the outdoor quad, ensuring they can stay connected no matter where they are on campus. With higher density APs, the IT team has seen hundreds of students seamlessly connect in a lecture hall and use the devices they need to without issue. They can also see where the most bandwidth is being used and on what application, and can limit the amount of bandwidth certain applications or devices are using to improve connection reliability and speed across campus. Instead of acting reactively to issues affecting the wireless network or running complicated scripts to verify wireless performance, the IT team now uses automated assurance with MerakiWireless Health. They can quickly see the number of failed connections, obtain automated performance metrics, and provide root cause analysis of client connection issues. Different wireless needs exist across various environments on campus, including lecture halls, dorm rooms, stadiums, and outdoor spaces, and it was traditionally challenging to meet their different configuration needs. With Meraki, the IT team was able to create pre-defined and customizable RF Profiles to apply RF settings across all of their diverse environments.
The network as a platform
While providing reliable wireless access was the original IT team’s goal with their AP deployment, they quickly realized there was so much more they could do with their new solution. The information and tools already made available in the Meraki dashboard can inform how to design the campus moving forward, help improve student safety, allow them to personalize student experiences, and more. With Bluetooth beacons, they can send personalized communications to students that are connected to an AP in the dining hall, student center, or science building. By leveraging the Meraki API, they can pull data out of the dashboard and use it in other systems and tools to continue improving the student experience. With the vast amounts of data available at their fingertips, the IT team is continuing to explore new ways to take advantage of these insights and apply them to the University going forward.
Butler University is a pioneer in deploying innovative technology in the higher education industry. To learn why they chose Meraki wireless, how they were able to complete their deployment so quickly, how they leverage non-technical staff to manage and troubleshoot the network, and how they are thinking about using wireless data to do more than just provide access, watch the on demand webinar. Peter Williams, Associate Vice President of IT and Chief Information Officer, and Michael Denny, Network and Security Architect, at Butler University walk us through their Meraki deployment, including a live demo of their Meraki dashboard. Watch now.
Today, the need for higher density, higher throughput and higher capacity are critical to wireless networks. These are the things that everyone wants from their wireless network–especially schools. These are the promises of Wi-Fi 6.
Wi-Fi 6 (known in more technical terms as 802.11ax) is the latest emerging wireless standard, offering several new improvements to make it the highest performing set of wireless protocols to date. Not only will Wi-Fi 6 boost overall performance on paper, but it is specifically designed to perform efficiently in real-world scenarios that Wi-Fi currently struggles in, such as when 25 students all hop on the classroom Wi-Fi at the same time. This allows end users to experience always-on connectivity without bottlenecks or performance degradation.
While every industry can benefit from the promises of Wi-Fi 6, one in particular is ready to benefit from this change: education. While most of us remember those school days spent searching through binders of papers, sharpening pencils in the middle of a test, and carrying heavy books from class to class, classrooms of today are transforming into central hubs of technology innovation and experimentation around the world. This shift has led to the need for secure and persistent Wi-Fi.
So what challenges will Wi-Fi 6 help the schools of tomorrow solve?
With an expected 50% increase in networked devices per person by 2020, equivalent to about 3.6 connected devices per person, schools are in for more of a bandwidth challenge than most. Additionally, more schools are deploying Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to increase school safety, improve operations and save costs. Together, this changes the requirements for many school networks. Traditionally, schools would add more access points to high density areas to try and combat reliability issues, but this has been found to cause congestion with overlapping signals. Plus, just having connections in classrooms is no longer enough; high density access points will be required everywhere on school grounds in order to accommodate students roaming with several mobile devices and wireless IoT devices.
Who are the first people to generally test out new technologies? Students. As a result, school networks are the first to handle hundreds of new devices at the same time. Not only are Wi-Fi 6-supported mobile devices already hitting the network, but the traffic per smartphone is expected to grow 10x by 2022. And if that isn’t enough, bandwidth-intensive video is expected to grow from 3% of all IP traffic in 2017 to 22% in 2022, already challenging networks with high throughput demands. To top it all off, 8K streaming is just on the horizon (and we know students will pick the highest streaming video quality they can!).
In the classroom, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), collaboration applications and other bandwidth-intensive technologies are already starting to provide a more immersive learning experience. With teachers already using video and other wireless technologies for instruction, having higher throughput will ensure learning goes on uninterrupted and teachers have more freedom to bring new capabilities into the classroom.
All this change will come faster than you think. For Jaymon Lefebvre, Director of IT Services at Wild Rose School Division (WRSD), the rapid increase in student and IoT devices poses unique networking obstacles for the district to overcome. As a rural school district in Alberta, Canada, WRSD has many students who don’t have Wi-Fi access at home. Therefore, WRSD is not only accommodating devices for learning, but also students’ personal devices, which they use to download content and homework while at school so they can continue using their devices at home.
Additionally, learning no longer just takes place in the classroom. At any given time, students are learning wherever they go, using high-bandwidth applications in the hallways and outside. Teachers are starting to use tiny, single-board computers more regularly, like Raspberry Pis and VR headsets for instruction. With up to 30 students per classroom, each with several devices, Lefebvre’s team wants to make sure there are no limitations to new and creative learning techniques.
The IT team has started deploying Wi-Fi 6 compatible APs to continue supporting the current technologies used by students and staff, while still getting classrooms ready to support new technologies. The Wi-Fi 6 APs not only provide higher density and throughput to support students and staff, but also enable the team to support over 15,000 wireless devices and focus on providing better experiences for the school division.
In the face of a new digital era, reliable connections allow students at WRSD to have the same learning experience as kids anywhere in the world, opening up new opportunities that were not possible before. To learn more about WRSD and how they are using Wi-Fi 6, watch the on demand webinar.
Last week, we outlined some of the technical advances included with the newest wireless standard, Wi-Fi 6 (also known as 802.11ax), including OFDMA, BSS Coloring, and MU-MIMO. Wi-Fi 6 truly incorporates some impressive technology that makes it a game-changer for the entire tech industry.
For those who are less technically inclined than the engineers who have made Wi-Fi 6 a reality, this alphabet soup of acronyms belies some of the benefits of the new standard. The truth is that the move to Wi-Fi 6 will be far more meaningful than any previous Wi-Fi standard, because it comes at a pivotal time for the industry. We’re on the verge of some incredible technological innovation over the next decade, from autonomous vehicles to VR hitting the mainstream, and the advancements that come with Wi-Fi 6 will help make these things possible.
Here are the main benefits that will come with the new generation of Wi-Fi.
1. Better high density performance
Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last decade, you’ve undoubtedly observed — and probably been a part of — the growth of smartphone usage in every public space imaginable. Nowadays, it’s impossible to go to a stadium, concert, university campus, park, or music festival without seeing crowds of people all trying to use their phones.
Local governments, college campuses, and event venues have all been involved in wiring these spaces for wireless coverage, to the point where “Free Public Wi-Fi” signs abound. The crush of hundreds or thousands of users puts a huge strain on these Wi-Fi networks, which often aren’t equipped to handle so many users, overlapping wireless signals, and data-hungry applications. This can result in a subpar wireless experience.
Fortunately, one of the key benefits of the new Wi-Fi 6 standard is dramatically better high density performance. Wi-Fi 6 access points use a variety of technologies to prevent interference between devices and transmit packets more efficiently. The result: more resilient networks that continue to deliver fast speeds even as more devices connect to the network.
2. Faster speeds
Wi-Fi 6 will not only help deliver more consistent performance across a large number of devices, but also faster speeds to every device. Higher throughputs will unlock a new set of software and services, like augmented reality and complex SaaS apps, in the same way that previous Wi-Fi standards made things like wireless music streaming and cloud productivity apps possible.
The time is nigh for these throughput improvements. The total amount of internet traffic from 2017-2022 will be higher than in the previous 32 years of the internet, and from 2017 to 2022, bandwidth-intensive 4K video is expected to grow from 3% to 22% percent of all IP traffic. Video isn’t even half of it, though. According to estimates by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the average household with two teenagers will own around 50 Internet-connected devices by 2022, including many IoT (Internet of Things) devices, from sensors to smart home devices.
Another reason the faster throughputs in the Wi-Fi 6 standard matter is because Wi-Fi 6 is hitting the market around the same time as 5G. Customers will expect Wi-Fi networks to deliver speeds at least as fast, if not faster, than the cellular network, and 5G networks will be offloading significant amounts of traffic to Wi-Fi. Cisco plans to take advantage of the next wave of wireless by introducing a new technology called OpenRoaming, which makes it easier for people to transition between different networks without the pain of logging onto each one individually. OpenRoaming aims to link together service providers, device manufacturers, and network operators to create greater interoperability between networks. With OpenRoaming in place, consumers will be able to seamlessly roam between 5G and Wi-Fi 6 networks without having to deal with the many annoying interruptions in service they encounter today.
3. Energy efficiency
Though the devices we carry around everyday have experienced startling improvements in myriad ways — faster processors, larger screens, incredible cameras — battery technology hasn’t advanced much in the last few years. Consumers still hanker for the days when their phones could last for a week without a charge, instead of petering out in the middle of the day. (Most consumers also wish their phones didn’t shatter when dropped, though that’s beyond the scope of this blog post!)
Fortunately, Wi-Fi 6 enables greater energy efficiency by reducing the battery burden on devices connected to the wireless network. A feature called Target Wake Time (TWT) lets APs dictate a schedule for sending data packets to connected clients. When devices aren’t scheduled to check for data, they enter a lower power mode. TWT can help devices achieve up to 67% lower power consumption, which could make tomorrow’s phones, IoT devices, and applications last longer.
It won’t be long before Wi-Fi 6 APs and devices are everywhere — Wi-Fi 6 devices are expected to be more than half of the devices sold in 2020. At Cisco Meraki, we couldn’t be more excited about the wave of new benefits that come with this new wireless standard. As Wi-Fi 6 becomes the new normal, consumers will have a significantly better experience connecting to wireless networks.
Learn more about the just-introduced Meraki Wi-Fi 6 compatible APs by watching our launch webinar.