Higher
Education

Higher Education

Colleges and universities often have a large and diverse range of network users, including on-campus students, remote students, daily event guests, and faculty and staff. These users have varying and changing network demands, and campus networks must be able to scale, respond flexibly to fluctuating traffic, secure against bad actors, and provide cohesive coverage across large education facilities. Managing so many users and devices on a complex network can be challenging, but the rXg networking gateway from RG Nets offers a feature set designed to handle these challenges.

The rXg uses SD‑WAN technology to seamlessly direct network resources where they are needed, when they are needed. This allows regular campus users and guests to flow smoothly between network nodes without any interruption in performance. With the rXg, it is easy to create Custom Captive Portals tailored for different use cases, such as a dedicated student portal for everyday studies or a guest conference portal that allows for sponsored self-registration. The rXg also has top-tier device management features built in, allowing you to locate devices, track end-user analytics, and dynamically filter content to ensure institution-owned gear is always within reach and not misused. All of these features come standard with intuitive, easy-to-configure portals within the main device management software.

To learn more about how RG Nets can help your higher education network reach new heights and discover the other features available with the rXg, please contact your RG Nets representative or visit www.rgnets.com

Across the United States, university campuses welcome thousands of students, teachers, staff, and guests every day. Academic and social hubs, college campuses are often the center of their communities. In smaller cities and towns, they may even boast restaurants that draw off-campus visitors, open university library services to the public, and host events for both students and local residents. With a variety of services, purposes, and end-users, colleges and universities need robust, flexible networks that can handle fluctuating bandwidth demands, stay FERPA compliant, and elevate the college campus experience.

RG Nets’ rXg, the “all-in-one box” networking gateway, is packed full of features designed to meet and exceed campus network needs. With its small footprint, “Everything Talks to Everything” design, and fully programmable, customizable networking options, the rXg is the last networking gateway any university will need. Ready to grow with your university, the rXg is unmatched in scalability, performance, and value. To demonstrate a few of the rXg’s features, designed with campuses in mind, we will follow Jane as she arrives on campus and attends the first week of college.

Use Case

Once Jane has finally sent her parents on their way, she starts settling in to her new dorm room. After asking her roommate if she knows the Wi-Fi password, Jane is surprised to learn that there isn’t one. Instead, she simply needs to select the Dorm Wi-Fi on her device, at which point she is taken to a Custom Captive Portal. Customized with the school’s colors and logo, the Portal prompts Jane to choose whether she is a student, employee, or guest. After selecting student, she is prompted to enter her Student ID and create a personal password. After creating her account, Jane connects her other devices to the network. Her roommate brought a gaming console and connects it directly to the Ethernet, registering it through her Portal to her user account.

As Jane has connected through the Custom Captive Portal,network administrators are able to identify her on the network and can ensure her profile remains on the Students segment of the network. Via the rXg, network administrators segmented the network for students, faculty, staff, and guests, which allows each group access to the network resources and information most relevant to them. This is in part due to the rXg’s SD‑WAN, allowing network administrators to create streamlined network overlays and easily set up dedicated channels for various types of network traffic.

While she finishes unpacking, Jane gets a notification on her phone. Campus activity organizers have taken advantage of the rXg’s Events feature, which allows them to send automatically or manually triggered notifications to users on the network. There is a New Student Social being held in one of the large auditoriums on campus. Jane asks her roommate if she knows where the auditorium is, but neither is sure. Luckily, Jane remembers that the Captive Portal had several additional features. She pulls up the Portal, selects the campus map option, and is pleasantly surprised to see that it recognizes her location in the dorms. Searching for the event auditorium, the rXg’s Wayfinding briefly describes how to navigate from the dorms to the event. As Jane and her roommate walk across campus, they note the map periodically updates their location, making the event easier to find.

The New Student Social features a guest speaker invited to campus by the Student Activity Department. When the guest speaker arrived on campus, he checked in – and connected to the network – in one easy step via Sponsored Guest Self-Registration. Using a Captive Portal, the guest speaker was given a small form to fill out on his device. In it he entered his name, which department he was invited by, and any other Personally Identifying Information (PII) the university requested. At this point, the Student Activity department received a notification that he had arrived. Network administrators can configure Self-Registration to automatically allow users onto the network after entering their PII, or can require the “Sponsoring” department to approve their request to join the network. The guest speaker is automatically added to the Guest network, which gives him access to QoL features such as the campus map, but keeps him well away from faculty and student dedicated network drives and resources.

After the Social, Jane heads to the dining hall to grab a bite to eat. Her Portal also allows her to use a digital ID Card, complete with a Dynamically Generated QR Code to can at the entrance and access her meal plan. While she eats, she browses social media. When Jane walked from the dorms to campus, her device automatically switched her from the Dorms network to the Campus one, without her realizing or having to sign in again. Network administrators have configured each network with its primary network traffic in mind – but fine-tune configurations are fully optional, as next-level QoL features such as Fair Share Equalization balance network traffic intelligently with minimal administrator intervention.

Jane has one class this afternoon in the Science Building. After utilizing Wayfinding to reach it, she chooses a seat and readies her laptop for class. When she first connected to the Dorms Wi-Fi, a networked folder was created specifically for her and linked to her student account. Jane creates a new document within it to take notes for class. Shortly afterwards, her professor arrives, pushing a mobile computer cart. Before class, the professor tracked down the mobile cart – which a colleague had failed to return to its spot – using the rXg’s Device Tracking feature. Jane’s professor pulls up the class material for the day. Earlier this morning, the professor used the campus’ work VPN to remotely and securely prepare materials from home, saving it to her own networked folder.

During class, Jane notices a student in front of her losing interest. He attempts to navigate to an online poker site, only to be greeted with the message that online gambling is not permitted on the school network. The rXg’s Content Filtering has come into play. These Content Filters can be as strict, specific, or lenient as desired, with different filters for different networks. For example, on the Dorm network students can freely access popular video game websites, while these are blocked on the Campus computer lab network. Meanwhile, websites known to host answers to assignments and tests are blocked campus-wide, except on the faculty network, where accessing them is permitted so professors can monitor if their materials have been leaked. Some activities, such as internet piracy sites, are blocked across the board, and the rXg is configured to notify campus network administrators if a student attempts to access them.

End User Analytics, easily configurable through the rXg dashboard, allow network administrators to collect whatever information is desired about their end-user base. This could be for security reasons, to collect data on network usage and tweak configurations based on the results, or to simply better understand the end user base. Through previously collected Analytics, campus’ network administrators know to expect the highest volume of video streaming to take place on the Dorms network. Network settings were tweaked to better prepare the network for the influx of streaming taking place in the evening hours, preventing students from suffering from suddenly depressed network speeds as everyone begins their latest re-watch of The Office.

After class, Jane heads to the library, where she is able to pull up her notes from class via her networked folder. She completes an introductory assignment and then decides to print out some pictures to decorate her dorm room. While black and white printing on campus is free, color prints carry a small fee. Thanks to the rXg’s seamless Integrated Billing features, Jane is easily able to purchase some print credits from her Portal and print out photos. Nearby, community members are utilizing the library’s bank of public-accessible computers. They are each able to access a free one-hour session per day on the device, using PII to log in. After this point, they can also utilize Integrated Billing to purchase more time at a nominal fee, up to three hours.

When Jane finally heads back to the Dorms, it is getting dark. She is comforted to see periodic security cameras and Emergency Alert poles along the campus thoroughfares. With the rXg’s seamless Third-Party Integration, these networked security devices are managed directly through the rXg’s dashboard, alongside several other third-party and cloud services utilized on campus. Managing all features through one interface cuts down on juggling logins, removes security weak spots, and streamlines workflows. Network administrators can easily customize what level of access different staff have to the dashboard – Security Staff, for instance, can be granted access to just the Security pane.

Back at the dorms, Jane uses Wi-Fi calling to catch up with her parents while she streams a movie and her roommate plays games on her console. On the call, Jane remarks to her parents that she thinks the Internet here might be even faster than it was at home – a far cry from what her brother reported experiencing in the dorms a few years before. With RG Nets’ rXg, the campus network has not only managed to keep up with student growth and activity, but has anticipated their needs, creating a seamless network experience across the board.

Conclusion

This use case has explored only a small number of the many features that prove invaluable in day-to-day campus operation and administration. With even more to offer, such as Property Management System Integration, RADIUS security protocols, Neutral Host Access, Virtual Hosts, and beyond, RG Nets is ready to help you build a network that works for you and grows with you. For a more in-depth look at each feature, and to learn about additional rXg features to fit your university’s needs and workflow, visit rgnets.com or click through to individual RG Nets Feature Briefs.

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