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Alage Agricultural, Technical, Vocational, and Educational Training College (AATVET), located in Addis Ababa, is affiliated with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, and oversees Ethiopia’s 331 governmental and private technology and vocational schools and training institutions. AATVET aims to increase knowledge and expertise, create jobs, reduce poverty, and promote national economic growth through vocational education and technical training.
Increasing Need for Online Video Education and Remote Training
As services such as online education and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) begin to prevail around the world, Ethiopia’s vocational education is faced with many challenges. First, almost no vocational education and training institutions use ICT networks.
Knowledge and skills are transmitted mainly by teachers, which makes remote education inefficient. Second, teachers in schools and institutions have different teaching abilities, making it difficult to achieve fairness in education. Third, communication with international experts cannot be implemented in a timely manner, so that schools and students find it difficult to keep pace with the world.
AATVET, however, is determined to change the status quo and deploy an advanced ICT network based on modern education and the rapid development of network communications technologies. In the first phase, AATVET planned to deploy ICT networks in 12 vocational schools to promote efficient transfer of knowledge and expertise as well as communication between schools. Every student would have access to the data center’s high-quality teaching resources and obtain fair education opportunities via online and remote education. By deploying advanced online video exchange training centers, AATVET will help teachers and students efficiently conduct knowledge and technical exchanges and interaction with international vocational institutions.
To succeed in the development of online education and enable high-quality information-based campus interconnection, it was necessary to construct a high-bandwidth, easy-to-expand network with full Wi-Fi coverage.
High-bandwidth Network Delivers Superior Services
Since AATVET required high-bandwidth services such as cloud applications, VoIP, HD video conferencing, and monitoring, Huawei proposed a high-bandwidth, agile network solution. The network architecture consists of access, aggregation, and core layers. The solution helps achieve unified network planning of office areas on campuses, simplify the traffic forwarding process, and improve network performance. At the core layer, Huawei’s high-bandwidth, agile S12708 switches use Ethernet Network Processors (ENPs) and support smooth evolution from 10 GE to 40 GE or 100 GE. At the access layer, Huawei’s next-generation gigabit S5720LI access switch implements gigabit-to-the-desktop. Huawei’s cost-effective 802.11ac AP4030DN Access Point (AP) provides Wi-Fi coverage.
S12708 agile switches, with Huawei ENP cards, provide native Access Controller (AC) technology that is used to build converged wired/wireless networks. Wired and wireless traffic is centrally controlled, managed, and forwarded, which simplifies network O&M. The S12708 also breaks the bottleneck caused by traditional independent ACs during wireless traffic forwarding — instead, it provides up to terabit wireless bandwidth. This technology ensures that teachers and students can access HD video teaching resources without video freezes, and enjoy smooth and fast download and upload services.
Core Switch CSS2 Technology Ensures High Network Reliability
For AATVET, with its many campus branches, high reliability is essential to the core layer of the campus network. At this layer, S12708 switches use Huawei’s unique Cluster Switch System Generation2 (CSS2) technology that provides 1+N backup of Main Processing Units (MPUs). A cluster can run stably as long as one MPU in any member chassis is working properly, which greatly improves cluster reliability. Inter-chassis latency of 4 μs ensures smooth traffic forwarding across the chassis.
Wi-Fi Coverage Network Ensures Wireless Access in High-density Areas
Originally, libraries, canteens, and other high-density areas in AATVET had no Wi-Fi coverage. To solve this problem, Huawei deployed its gigabit AP (802.11ac AP4030DN) that delivers throughput of up to 1.167 Gbit/s. This AP increases per-user bandwidth by 70 percent, compared with traditional 802.11n APs under the same conditions. In addition, Huawei uses its self-developed 3D network-planning tool — WLAN Planner — for WLAN deployment. The WLAN Planner takes into account various factors that affect network quality in three-dimensional spaces, thus eliminating planning errors in complex environments caused by using traditional 2D planning tools. Moreover, using the WLAN Planner ensures pervasive coverage in libraries, office buildings, and dormitories, and no interference between AP radios. High-density access technologies (including access control of low-speed STAs, multi-user collision control, multi-user access scheduling, and airtime fair scheduling) are also used, effectively improving users’ Internet access experience in high-density areas.
Huawei’s 802.11ac AP8130DN AP provides clear outdoor Wi-Fi coverage. The AP’s innovative dual-5G radio technology and 2.4G-to-5G switchover increases the maximum number of access users by 30 percent and wireless bandwidth by 50 percent. The AP8130DN with its built-in antenna surge protection design requires no additional surge protector. This reduces the customer’s investment costs and facilitates network maintenance.
Agility Features Enable Scalable Campus Networks
Huawei’s S12712 agile switches provide the native AC function for development and centralized management of future wireless campuses. With this function, common switch cards are able to deliver wired data exchange services and manage a large number of APs. The customer only needs to add licenses on the S12712 to manage more APs. Centrally managed wired and wireless networks improve efficiency by 50 percent and lower O&M costs. Separate ACs, used in legacy wired/wireless networks, require additional device, O&M, and management costs.
To cope with the continuing increase in the number of AATVET teachers and students, Huawei’s campus network meets the customer’s future network expansion needs and protects investment costs. The S12708 supports aggregation of up to 384 x 10 GE interfaces; the S7700 supports CSS technology; and access devices support intelligent stack (iStack) technology, satisfying expansion demands at different network layers. In addition, the native AC function supports license extension that enables each AC to manage up to 2,000 APs.
With applications such as cloud computing and Big Data analytics, online teaching and mobile education have become popular in the education industry. By understanding the core demands of AATVET, Huawei not only achieved first-phase network deployment targets, but also helped AATVET build a high-bandwidth, easy-to-expand, easy-to-manage, smart campus network. The network enables teachers and students to enjoy smooth Internet access experience in the wireless office and learning network environment, and sets a new campus network benchmark in Ethiopia. Huawei’s agile network solution will continue to focus on customer demands to help them create advanced, efficient, reliable agile networks.