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Founded in 1999 and run entirely by student volunteers, Selfnet is a German non-profit student association that aims to equip and foster a new generation of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) talent.
Quite simply, Selfnet builds and manages student dormitory networks — networks constructed entirely by students, for students. This not only gives ICT students direct and high-speed access to the critical online learning resources they need, it also provides them with invaluable hands-on experience operating a real network in the real world. And this is a very big change from how things are usually done, where traditional educational institutions keep campus network operations well out of students' hands.
As things stand, 13 of the dormitories affiliated to Selfnet's network, located in southeastern Germany, offer wireless access, covering around 3000 students (roughly half of Selfnet's total members), with an average of over 1700 clients accessing the network simultaneously.
Selfnet was planning to offer Wi-Fi access at several of its student dormitory sites — effectively, mini campuses themselves — that, together, make up the wider Stuttgart-Vaihingen campus. However, the environment and layout of each site was widely different, presenting unique challenges to network planning and deployment.
Nonetheless, the aim — stated simply — was to deliver stable Wi-Fi coverage across the board, from individual dormitory rooms and offices right down to basement spaces, with minimum 20–30 Mbit/s baseline access speeds. (This figure was set even higher, note, for completely renovated or new buildings). In addition, there were also plans to extend Wi-Fi coverage to some outdoor areas: in short, the goal was to achieve uninterrupted Wi-Fi access for the selected sites.
Huawei provided a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) solution tailored for the unique needs of Selfnet's campus. This included Wi-Fi 6-capable AirEngine 5760-10 Access Points (APs), alongside Wi-Fi 5-compliant outdoor APs — AP8050DN and AP8030DN — plus long-term shipment assurance and service support. This amounted to a comprehensive portfolio that enabled Selfnet to seamlessly upgrade its WLAN network, offering a new and unprecedented indoor and outdoor network experience.
Two Huawei AC6805 Wireless Access Controllers (WACs) were deployed in dual-link cold backup mode to ensure the high availability of Wi-Fi. Meanwhile, secure Wi-Fi network access was assured for both user terminals and Internet of Things (IoT) endpoints: Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) in Private Pre-Shared Key (PPSK) mode was configured to authenticate user identities.
Elsewhere, Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) was used to encrypt control links for all APs. A special focus was given to encrypting the data links for APs in Selfnet's Network Operations Center (NOC) and offices. These encryption measures now guarantee the security of mission-critical data. Due to devices being scattered across the campus, devices are managed remotely using Secure Telnet (STelnet) or Secure Shell (SSH) for more efficient online operations, slashing maintenance times and reducing Operating Expense (OPEX).
While Huawei responded swiftly to Selfnet's need for a hyper customized solution, projects like this are only ever successful through streamlined collaboration across the board, particularly between the sales team and supply chain. With Huawei's solution, Selfnet has optimized its WLAN network at the Stuttgart-Vaihingen campus, in turn offering better services to its members.
Since Selfnet is completely run by volunteers, most work only begins in the late afternoon or evening. Regardless, Huawei's local Technical Assistance Center (TAC) remains always committed to responding to requests fast — within two hours — then providing the services needed as soon as possible.
Working with Huawei, Selfnet has successfully built a reliable and efficient network for its thousands of members, in turn supporting the development of a new wave of ICT professionals, giving them the resources and experiences they need to get to where they want to be.
• Website: https://www.selfnet.de
• About Selfnet's self-built network
• Live statistics are available on http://dashboard.selfnet.de/
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