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New Zealand schools to get Wi-Fi 6 in connectivity boost

More than 2,000 schools across New Zealand will be among the first in the country to enjoy the improved coverage and access speeds of Wi-Fi 6

Some 2,500 schools in New Zealand will be among the first in the country to get access to Wi-Fi 6 connectivity that promises better wireless coverage and performance improvements in dense campus environments.

The technology will be supplied by CommScope, which will deploy up to 38,000 Ruckus Wi-Fi 6 access points and 12,000 multi-gigabit switches at local schools, enabling higher data rates and improved capacity and power efficiency.

As the access points are optimised for video-centric learning, educators can explore the use of virtual reality in the classroom, potentially improving educational outcomes for students.

The Wi-Fi 6 deployment also marks the first time that schools have been able to manage their networks through a single platform, making troubleshooting of connectivity issues much easier.

“We want to equip our students with the right skills through digital technologies,” said Kim Shannon, head of education infrastructure service at New Zealand’s education ministry.

“Looking to the future, educators have the opportunity to redefine how we communicate and collaborate. Reliable and superfast connectivity is giving students the possibility to do things differently and prepare for new skills that don’t yet exist, giving every student the best chance to thrive,” she added.

Murray Dickson, director of enterprise for South Pacific at CommScope, said the fourth industrial revolution had made it imperative for education systems to adapt and usher in a new era of technology in education.

“We want to equip our students with the right skills through digital technologies”
Kim Shannon, New Zealand’s education ministry

“Teachers and students need their internet to perform seamlessly throughout the school without having to worry about how many devices are being used at any one time or the type of online learning programmes they want to use,” said Dickson.

Larrie Moore, CEO of Network for Learning, a government-owned firm tasked to support schools in their Wi-Fi 6 deployments, said: “The technology needs to support the way students want to learn and we are delighted to be working with CommScope to upgrade the schools’ wireless networks with the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology to provide ongoing support for schools.”

According to IDC, Wi-Fi 6 access points made up 11.8% of unit shipments and 21.8% of revenues in the enterprise market in the first quarter of 2020. The previous generation standard, 802.11ac, still made up most shipments (80.9%) and revenues (76.2%).

Brandon Butler, IDC’s senior research analyst for network infrastructure, said wireless connectivity remains an important technology as more users rely on mobile devices to connect to bandwidth-intensive applications.

However, he noted that the WLAN market is not immune to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Results from the market’s first quarter of 2020 show the early effect of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, which will continue to impact the market into the second quarter of 2020,” said Butler.

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