C Spire upgrades wireless connectivity at Birmingham City Schools

Overall, the C Spire team configured more than 3,200 wireless access points.  (C Spire)

C Spire Business recently undertook a wireless design and upgrade project to improve connectivity for more than 40 Birmingham City Schools.

Led by C-Spire Business Senior Systems Engineer Chris Brown, the goal of the wireless local area network (WLAN) upgrade was to increase wireless coverage and density for students in classrooms and common areas to support student devices and higher end applications.

“We did an intensive wireless design and upgraded them so that they could support multi gigabit,” said Brown, in a blog post about upgrade. “There’s no cookie-cutter technique.”

The upgrade involved 43 schools, including elementary, middle and high schools, as well as one non-instructional facility.

C Spire’s in-house engineering team installed new wireless access points, as well as Wi-Fi switches to support needed mGig technology, according to a spokesperson.

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“Wireless is more than just about sticking up an AP and walking away from it,” Brown said in a video about the project. “You have to do spectrum analysis, you have to look for interference, and you have to really make sure you have the coverage and density to support their distance learning and on-campus learning.”

Cisco Prime was installed and configured as a network management platform to provide visibility into the network, including up/downlink visibility, heat maps, and predictive coverage, among others.

In addition to design, the team’s work included provisioning, installation, configuration, licensing and support of the new wireless access points and switches. They also redesigned and configured existing wireless access points that were not replaced to work with the new on-premise solution. Overall, the team configured more than 3,200 wireless access points.  

While the schools are getting increased Wi-Fi coverage, the spokesperson said Birmingham Schools organization, at this time, doesn’t have the infrastructure to support next-generation Wi-Fi 6.