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Albany State University

Albany State University

Highlights

  • Seamless WiFi across high-density campus with Cisco Meraki wireless APs
  • Expansion of 802.11ac in campus buildings with the deployment of over 100 MR32s
  • Round-the-clock intrusion prevention in residential housing units with Air Marshal

For the past several months, Albany State University has been a test site for the newest Cisco Meraki wireless access point, the MR32. The MR32 is a 2 stream, triple-radio, 802.11ac unit with a dedicated security radio. Designed specifically for high density environments, the MR32 offers almost double the speed of the previous 802.11n standard. ASU has deployed over 100 of these new units around their campus, and their staff, students, and IT team have all reported an improved wireless experience.

Located in Southwest Georgia, ASU has around 4,000 students and offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate academic, athletic, and extracurricular programs. To take full advantage of everything the university has to offer, all stakeholders need access to a reliable WiFi network. “We were looking for a networking solution that was easy for the team to manage, easy to install, and easy to monitor. Our hardware provider suggested Meraki, and user feedback since the deployment has been extremely positive,” the IT team explained.  

ASU has deployed over 430 Cisco Meraki access points, comprised of a mix of MR18s in the residential dorms, weather-resistant outdoor MR66s on the football field and outdoor campus, and MR32s inside campus buildings. “The installation was seamless. We got all our MR32s up in less than a week, and that was with bad weather slowing us down,” the team reported.

We were looking for a networking solution that was easy for the team to manage, easy to install, and easy to monitor. Our hardware provider suggested Meraki, and user feedback since the deployment has been extremely positive. ASU IT team

With the installation of the dual-band MR32s and the expansion of 802.11ac, ASU has seen dramatic increases in wireless throughput and efficiency. The MR32 doubles the channel bandwidth to a full 1.2 Gbps, enabling faster transmissions and increasing aggregate performance in densely populated environments. The built-in 802.11ac radio operates in the 5 GHz band, a less-crowded spectrum enabling wider channels with less interference. “The faculty is loving the fact that they don’t have to find an ethernet cord when trying to transfer a large file. People are able to do their jobs a lot faster,” the team said.

“Meraki has been a win-win for us and for the rest of the campus,” the team shared. “We have a large student center with a game room, restaurants, and a dining hall where we never used to get signal. Now when you go there, even with a few hundred students, everyone is on the wireless with their phones. The students are really excited about it, we have terabytes of data just on the wireless network - and these APs can handle it!”

The dual-band third radio built into these Cisco Meraki access points powers Air Marshal, a tool which detects and neutralizes rogue SSIDs, AP spoofs, and packet floods. This has proven incredibly useful in the ASU residence halls, where Air Marshal provides round-the-clock protection against intrusive devices without interrupting client traffic.

All Meraki access points are managed through the cloud management dashboard. This web-based platform provides in-depth monitoring capabilities, detailed network diagnostics, and a multitude of tools for easy network configuration. “We use Active Directory integration so we know who’s on the network, Layer 7 application traffic shaping to block peer-to-peer traffic, custom SSIDs for different groups of users, live troubleshooting tools, and more. We’ve had nothing but good results,” the team said.

“Cisco Meraki now covers our entire campus. The students are happy, the faculty and staff are happy, so we’re happy. Meraki has been heaven-sent.”