Friday, March 23, 2012

Wireless Trial and Error

iPads are great at getting connected to most wireless networks. Homes, Starbucks, McDonalds: no problem. But we've had quite a bit of difficulties getting our iPads on our district's enterprise network and staying on. Apparently this is something that Apple hasn't addressed with their devices.

In our district (like all schools) we have a variety of devices to support. This year has seen a ton of iPads join the network. I'm not sure that Apple knew or prepared for the proliferation of its devices in schools. The latest we've heard is that iPad doesn't like enterprise networks, which is what schools or large businesses would use to protect their network and data.

Our network has two wireless networks: an open one and a hidden one. We are connecting all our CPS purchased devices to the hidden network. It's been a work in progress, and our wireless specialists have done a great job troubleshooting the devices and spending lots of time on the phone with Apple. Here is our current setup:

We are installing the hidden network on the CPS devices. The profile we are using contains a certificate that is specific to our system and the iPad. Once we have it installed, we choose "forget this network" for the open wireless. We think this step will help the iPad stay less confused by only trying to connect to one. That's the device side of it.

Our current bandaid is to set up the access points to only look for the 2.4 ghz radio. Our AP's have a 2.4 and a 5. This step can be done remotely and with a reboot of the AP's, the iPads will only be using one radio. Of course, this restricts the number of devices on each AP because we've cut out one radio. But as of now, it's been a big help in getting the devices connected and staying connected.

We're thinking that over the summer, we could create a separate network only for the iPads. This step will help out the laptops in their connections. Not a great solution, but one that could work to help out all devices.

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