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Innovative Wireless Campus Network in the Mobile Age---Anhui Agricultural Univer

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1. Background

Anhui Agricultural University (AAU) is an institution for higher education located in Hefei, the provincial capital of Anhui Province, China. It excels in the sciences of forestry and agriculture. It covers natural sciences, engineering, medicine and socio-economic courses such as business, literature, law, and education. The university boasts 20753 students studying at its 18 schools and over 1,660 teaching and administrative staff. It is one of the five key provincial universities of Anhui and the only university co-founded by Anhui province and the Ministry of Agriculture.

Universities and colleges across China are building wireless campus networks that integrates scientific research activities, teaching, and office work. As more and more teachers and students use mobile terminals such as laptops and smart phones for teaching, studying, conferencing, seminars, and other academic activities, the current wired network cannot meet the constantly increasing mobile access demands. AAU decided to build a wireless network based on its existing wired network so as to facilitate the access to the college website and to provide learning resources to wireless users in a more flexible and convenient way.

2. Key Challenges

AAU's WLAN project must meet the following requirements if it is to become a model for future network planning and win applause from teachers and students

  • Integrating the wireless network on the existing wired network: The existing wired network of AAU is difficult to restructure. The network reconstruction is expensive and may affect teaching activities How to build a WLAN without affecting the current network structure is a challenge.

  • Protecting the university's property rights and information security: Wired networks are relatively secure due to stable location. Since confidential files such as theses and exam papers are more prone to theft on a wireless network, the wireless network must be capable of preventing the college's key information assets from leakage.

  • Ensuring service availability by reducing network faults: Network O&M is a major concern in network planning. Due to insufficient network maintenance, network problems occurred frequently in the college's wired network in the past. The wireless network is complex and so its operation and maintenance must be guaranteed.

3. Solution

Huawei proposed the unified wired/wireless network solution to AAU. With comprehensive and advanced security technologies and a graphical network management system (NMS), the solution can help AAU build a secure, stable, and highly efficient wireless campus network.

The following features and characteristics encouraged AAU to use Huawei solution:

1) Flexible networking ensures full integration with existing network structure: As a world-leading WLAN solution provider, Huawei considered all application scenarios while designing its WLAN products. Its customized products are compatible with existing networks, maximizing return on investment (ROI). On AAU's network, APs function as access devices and ACs are connected to the network in bypass mode, rendering the network scalable and easy to maintain.

2) Refined user management protects key assets: Students, teachers, and visitors are restricted to different access channels. The three types of users are isolated and entitled to customized access policies, which means they cannot access one another's exclusive network resources. The industry-leading access authentication technologies prevent unauthorized access between the users.

3) NMS Visuals attain easy and unified wired/wireless management: Huawei eSight, a professional NMS, can manage all Huawei devices as well as major third-party devices. It also integrates testing, monitoring, automatic configuration, and network upgrade functions to meet all O&M needs. All devices are visualized and displayed. Customers can quickly detect and locate faults to realize easy and unified network maintenance.

4. Customer Benefits

The AAU campus WLAN facilitates students' and teachers' wireless surfing. The WLAN coverage allows users to access the university's website from anywhere at any time. After the WLAN was completed, users browsing AAU network resources multiplied and the project became one of the 2012 highlight projects of AAU.

  • Efficient and reliable WLAN increases the web hit rate: The WLAN won applause from students and teachers during its trial period. The number of wireless access terminals doubled and internal visitors quadrupled. The WLAN facilitated and enriched life at AAU.

  • Intelligent O&M tool implements unified campus network: No additional maintenance personnel are required to maintain the newly built WLAN. The WLAN is more manageable and reliable than the original wired network. Complaints of bad network user experience decreased as a result.

  • The AAU WLAN project is a practice of the China Mobile Network Strategy. It meets wireless accessing demands, realizes unified management and control of network resources, improves the administrative efficiency, and provides a solid foundation for AAU to join the ranks of China's first-class universities

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