Seneca College studies wireless options for network sharing

Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology is preparing for a greater influx of students with ever-increasing bandwidth demands by enhancing connectivity among its campuses.

The school recently established a fixed wireless

100Mb direction connection with a separate 45Mb route diversity between its Newham Campus at Toronto’s Finch Avenue and its York University location. The wireless broadband service is being provided by MIPPS Inc.

MIPPS began working with Seneca last fall, when it was contracted to provide a 45Mb high-speed service link to the college’s King campus.

“”Getting service at reasonable cost up into the York region have always been an issue,”” said Terence Verity, CIO of Seneca College. “”You’ve got long distances to travel and you pay a premium. There weren’t well-established services already.””

Seneca is also building new campuses and shifting major resources between them, Verity said. A centralized data centre that is home for all its administrative enterprise servers, for exapmle, is being moved to the Newham campus. This networking project is directly related to the so-called “”double cohort”” problem that has seen increased enrollment at the post-secondary level as grade 13 is eliminated in high schools. The new building at York campus, funded by SuperBuild, is part of a revamp to Senca’s physical infrastructure in order to make way for more students, Verity said. “”As we build out these things, we have to make sure that our networking infrastructure is also up to date,”” he said.

MIPPS Inc. president Sharon Vinderine in Markham, Ont., said many schools are looking for a low-cost alternative to fibre. Though forecasting bandwidth demands is not necessarily getting easier, she said the industry is learning to set up the infrastructure in a more intelligent way.

“”In the past, a customer might have said they only needed a T1, and we would have thought that would be enough for a long time,”” she said. “”Now we’re going out and putting in a 10Mb service because we know there’s going to be growth.””

Seneca has fibre backbones in the college with 100Mb to the desktop in a switched environment, and enjoys the same speed in the WAN, Verity said. Seneca will also have membership in Ontario’s Orion network that will allow it connectivity to other colleges and York at gigabit speeds. Until that project is complete, however, he said the school needs to deal with present-day challenges.

“”There isn’t a dollar back in my pocket on it, but we’re not suffering in terms of reduced services,”” he said. “”We’re providing enhanced services for essentially the same dollar value, and in the long term we’re looking at saving money.””

Seneca also plans to move some of its voice connections over wireless link, possibly by next September.

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