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    The Hague University of Applied Sciences: A Secure, Robust, and Future-Proof Wi-Fi 6 Network for a Dutch University

3 Min Read

Ajoeb Elahi adds, "We ran four separate tests to see how the Wi-Fi works with the new devices. It went flawlessly, regardless if 20, 50, 150 or 468 devices were used. We've already had visits from several schools that want to see how it works."

Security, availability and a high capacity: that was what The Hague University of Applied Sciences (THUAS) wanted from the design of the ICT infrastructure in its gym hall. Here is how Huawei helped THUAS achieve their objectives.

Situation

THUAS were in search of a secure and reliable Wi-Fi network for hosting digital tests and exams for up to 500 users. The university wanted its network to perform at full capacity during tests, to avoid infrastructure failures that would force students to retake their tests. They also needed a large, secure location: the gym hall.

Box out section

THUAS, established in 1987, is a university focused on global citizenship and helps empower students to change and improve the world they live in. The university takes pride in its international nature and global perspective. More than 25,000 students from over 140 countries are enrolled in a Bachelor, Master or post-graduate programme at one of the four sites and more than 1900 people work at the university. The THUAS consists of faculties, research groups and service departments and works closely with over 300 exchange partners from more than 50 countries, from Brazil and China to Australia, USA and several European countries.

The solution

With input from Wi-Fi network expert Whyless and AnyLinQ ICT Services, a Wi-Fi network based on THUAS’s existing Huawei Wi-Fi environment was designed. Unfortunately, the access points that the school had in mind could no longer be delivered, therefore opting for the new Huawei Wi-Fi 6 solution. Given how new Wi-Fi 6 was, the university requested that the best should be done to minimise the risks: Wi-Fi 6 environments are still few and far between, and their switches are new too.

Ajoeb Elahi, a workplace specialist at THUAS shared, “I usually rather go with a proven technology, to be honest. Still, I understood that Wi-Fi 5 would be rendered obsolete soon, and I prefer to recommend innovations that are future-proof”

Maximum security during tests was the university’s number one priority. This was achieved in various areas:

  • The gym hall is half-submerged, and resided in an insulated concrete basin. This kept the interference for the school to a minimum: the radio spectrum was contained within the gym hall.
  • Twenty access points were installed, twice as many as strictly necessary. Each access point covered a small area of the gym hall, and featured a directional response with a unique transmission channel.
  • Students from multiple degree programmes and years were seated at random throughout the gym hall to take different types of tests. So it was pointless to copy the work of someone sitting nearby.
  • The successful working model meant that at the start of the test, a laptop was placed on each desk, and hooked up to the access point in advance. They were taken to a secured area overnight for charging.

The university also wanted classes to continue with as little interruption as possible while the work was being carried out. One advantage was that the installation of the new network could be integrated as part of the scheduled renovations to the gym, which included the laying of a new floor and making some other modifications, helping reduce disruption. The high ceiling in the gym hall posed another challenge which was resolved with a cherry picker lift being brought in for installing the access points.

Result

Now, THUAS is the first university in the Netherlands with a high-density, Wi-Fi 6 environment ready for use at the start of the 2021-2022 academic year. The school’s new network offers full reliability and maximum redundancy. The requirements stated a connectivity of 4MB per device; in the end the university got 6.4MB!

The installation was extremely successful. Gert Jan Helder, one of the project engineers on the project, who worked on the ICT infrastructure, the ICT cables, general infrastructure and the Wi-Fi 6 network infrastructure, shared, “The result is amazing. It works perfectly. The coverage is great, the performance is great. We set 468 laptops to generate 4MB per device, which is far more than will ever be used during a test. Under normal conditions, this would never happen.”

Ajoeb Elahi adds, “We ran four separate tests to see how the Wi-Fi works with the new devices. It went flawlessly, regardless if 20, 50, 150 or 468 devices were used. We’ve already had visits from several schools that want to see how it works.”

Looking back, what are The Hague University of Applied Sciences’ thoughts about the project?

Ben Landmeter, network administrator: “It’s a brand-new technology that no other school in the Netherlands has, so we didn’t have any examples of how it had been done elsewhere. We’ve been working with Huawei for years, and we wanted to continue our partnership. We’re very pleased with how Huawei helped us.”

Gert Jan Helder, project engineer: “The switch line, which connects computers and peripherals within a network, was completely new, even for Huawei. So we scheduled a technical session to investigate the possibilities of the switch line. I really enjoyed how we worked together.”

Ajoeb Elahi, workplace specialist: “I was very happy with the support provided by Huawei. Being an early adopter meant that we received comprehensive support. That was a big part of the success. In December 2021 we ran an evaluation with the Digital Tests project group at THUAS, and they were full of praise for the new setup.”

Cees Conijn, project leader: “Our Wi-Fi environment is unique: secure, redundant and reliable. We’ve run tests that show that we now have a future-proof Wi-Fi 6 environment that gives us a reliable setup for hosting digital tests.”

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