NSW gets world's largest Wi-Fi network

NSW will soon have the largest centrally-controlled wireless network in the world with Wi-Fi covering every school in the state, according to the NSW Department of Education and Training (DET).

The $70 million network will see 22,000 access points deployed across NSW schools, to fully cover each campus and the requirements of each of the state's 200,000 students. Some schools will have their wireless connectivity boosted from a single classroom to cover the entire school.

The project, run by IBM, will be finished in July when the second and final phase of the deployment is completed. About half the schools have had their wireless networks upgraded to date under the first phase of the project.

DET CIO Stephen Wilson said at an Adobe conference in Sydney today the network is on par with, and will soon exceed, the equivalent wireless network used by the United States Airforce.

"It is the largest centrally-monitored network in the world. We are constantly neck-and-neck with the US Airforce,” Wilson said.

“Every schools has access to the network… phase two will push wireless into every single learning space.”

The 300Mbps network will use the 802.11n standard over Aruba wireless hardware.

The network will provide wireless Internet connectivity for hundreds of thousands of year nine to 12 students who are also being issued with Lenovo ThinkPad Mini 10 laptops.

Some 66,000 laptops were handed out to year nine students last year by the Department under the Federal Government’s $2.2 billion Digital Education Revolution initiative.

NSW education Minister Verity Firth announced at a press event in Sydney yesterday a further 10,000 will hit schools each week for the remainder of 2010, bringing the number to 130,000 by mid this year.

The department has dedicated some 500 IT staff to supporting the laptop deployment.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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