Standards Wireless
                                                                                                                                             Standards - Wireless
 
                                                                                                               Sub - Committee Chair Wireless: Ed Kessler 754-321-0349
                                                               Purchasing Agent - Chuck High - 754-321-0527           Purchasing Technician - Stacey Sciarrillo 754-321-0525
 
Wireless network technologies are poised to play an important role within the Broward County Public Schools. Both staff and students have quickly recognized the benefits of this mobile, untethered network access. For this reason, installations have been progressing rapidly around the District. Unfortunately, many implementations are being done informally, with little or no planning.

The Broward Schools Education Technology Service Department believes that a coordinated, centralized delivery method of wireless networking services is the best strategy to succeed in the face of many challenges. ETS’s goal is to provide a users common experience across the District, efficiently supporting all users, protecting network resources, and providing quality services. There are several major challenges involving wireless networks:

Security and access control: Unless steps are taken to protect them, wireless LAN (WLAN) installations are open to anyone within range of the access point. If a wireless access point is connected to the Broward Schools network without appropriate restrictions, anyone with the proper equipment will be able to access the Broward Schools network, even from outside the building. Furthermore, anyone with the proper equipment could intercept wireless network traffic. They could see users' passwords as well as other data. As Broward Schools additional services online, the possibility of damage that can be done by unauthorized people is increasing.

Interference: There is a finite amount of bandwidth available for wireless use. The most common wireless LAN technology (802.11b) defines limited number of usable radio frequencies. However, they are close enough together that they can interfere with each other. Thus it is common practice to use only 3 or possibly 4 channels. If wireless networks are installed without appropriate coordination, interference is likely. This may result in significantly degraded performance for everyone and a poor user experience.

One area of conflict of particular concern is the use of Bluetooth personal area wireless networking in areas that have Broward Schools WLAN coverage. Because these two wireless networks both use the same general radio spectrum, there is the potential that either of the two systems will fail when the two are operating in the same area. The likelihood of network connection failure increases as the number of competing Bluetooth and Wireless Local Area Networking (WLAN) are deployed near each other. This factor should be considered in purchasing and deployment decisions as they relate to co-located WLAN and Bluetooth installations and use. A second potential conflict may occur with the introduction of portable (not cellular) phones in an area of WLAN coverage. These devices also use the radio 2.4Ghz spectrum shared by Wireless local area networking and Bluetooth. Again, care should be taken to make sure that areas in which reliable wireless LAN coverage is required the use of these devices be minimized Microwave ovens often cause issues with wireless networks.

Since microwave ovens utilize the same 2.4 GHZ band as the wireless networks, and there is limited frequency spectrum available the overlap and interference is unavoidable. The location of microwave ovens should be taken into consideration when determining access point location.Locations have purchased and deployed their own (ad-hoc) wireless networks. ETS has found that many of these networks have been setup with little or no security procedures in place. This lack of network coordination and disregard of standardized security protocols has left the District extremely vulnerable to unauthorized access to network resources. Often these ad-hoc networks interfere with the Districts’ prescribed wireless solution and reduce the effectiveness of the preferred wireless solution.

 

Background
Since the ratification of the 802.11x standard for wireless networking in 1999 and the subsequent proliferation of interoperable, affordable products that support that standard, wireless network technology has established itself as an important complement to the traditional wired data networks.

Mobile access to information improves our ability to communicate and has become an expectation in the modern business environment. Faculty, staff and students will have the ability to check email or their schedules from most places around campus. Access to the Internet will no longer be tied to a computer in an office, lab or classroom. Wireless network technology is also beneficial for gaining network access in locations that are difficult, expensive, or inconvenient to wire. Examples include large lecture halls, outdoor areas, conference rooms, etc.

Wireless networks do have their limitations. For example, they are slower than wired networks. Wireless networks are also inherently insecure. Tools are readily available to capture someone else's communications, including passwords and other sensitive data. Wireless network users must take extra precautions and adhere to standards to ensure secure communications over a wireless network. As wireless network throughput (speed) increase with the development of additional protocols a better end-user experience will follow.

While the standard does allow a wireless network card from one vendor to connect to an access point from another vendor, the devices must all be carefully configured for this support. Every product also has proprietary features that don't interoperate. This is especially true when it comes to security and management. Consequently, wireless network standards and central management of the campus "air space" are necessary to protect valuable information resources and to ensure the highest degree of interoperability as one roams from one location to another on campus with a mobile device.

 
Suitability
Wireless systems offer a different type of service from wired service with respect to reliability, available bandwidth, security, and portability. Wireless service is an extension of the wired network for general-purpose network. It enables applications that require the mobility offered by wireless, but which don’t require the bandwidth or reliability of wired connections. Wireless bandwidth availability is more limited than wired bandwidth and is shared among users in an area. As the number of users in an area increase, the available bandwidth to each user decreases. So wireless is not appropriate in areas of high user density, especially if high bandwidth applications are a requirement. Given the limited bandwidth available per user, wireless currently works best for the relatively low bandwidth applications, such as web browsing and e-mail. Wireless networks are NOT a replacement for wired networks. The purpose of the wireless network is to extend the wired network by providing Web browsing and e-mail access in areas of transient use such as common areas.
 
Rationale for Standard/Guidelines
The purpose of these guidelines are to improve the reliability and performance of the District's wireless network service while ensuring that concerns about network security, network interoperability, and reduce the incidents where possible interference can occur between the campus wireless networks and other technologies deployed at these sites. The establishment of specific wireless network standards is intended to: a. Communicate intent and direction with respect to the deployment of wireless technology across the Broward Schools enterprise network. b. Provide a framework for a common experience for wireless users across campus. c. Designate a security mechanism for authenticating users to wireless service. Set expectations and guidelines for wireless usage.
 
Scope
This policy applies to all wireless network devices utilizing Broward Schools IP space, and all users of such devices, and governs all wireless connections to each campus and the District network backbone, frequency allocation, network assignment, registration in the Domain Name System, and services provided over wireless connections to the District network backbone to schools, departments, or divisions of Broward County Public Schools.
 
Implementation
Expansion of the Broward Schools wireless networking is to be only provided with coordination provided by Broward Schools' Education Technology Services (ETS). Schools and Departments seeking to deploy or extend the reach of the wireless networking at their location should not install any non-standardized wireless access points. ETS reserves the right to deploy wireless networking equipment as a part of a campus-wide wireless service in District owned and rented spaces. This may require the removal of non-standard equipment. If any location installs any on standardized equipment which is utilized to inappropriately access any SBBC resources, those parties may be liable for damages. Exceptions for user deployed wireless networking equipment will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

To contact ETS about wireless networking, send an email to: ed.kessler@browardschools.com. Administrators, department staff, teachers, and students are not permitted to install their own wireless networking equipment. Wireless service requests which are denied can be appealed using the Technology Standards Waiver Process.Removal of non-standard equipment from service can be appealed to Broward Schools' Executive Director.
 
Supported Deployment Model/Equipment and Configuration
All approved Broward Schools standard Wireless Access Points and switches are from the Cisco product line. This equipment must be purchased through normal SBBC purchasing procedures and be integrated with the District's Local Area Networks in accordance with all provisions of this standard deployment guide. Wireless networking equipment is to be purchased using SBBC RFP 29-015N-Group 1. Schools and Departments are no longer permitted to purchase non-approved access points including, but not limited to Apple Airports, D-Link, Netgear, RoamAbout, and Linksys equipment.
 
Failure to Comply
IT reserves the right to disconnect and remove any wireless network equipment from any District location when the configuration and/or the traffic supported by this network violates the practices set forth in this standard purchasing and deployment policy.