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Northern Ireland’s Leading Higher Education Institute Makes On-Line Learning Facilities More Available and More Secure


The Belfast Institute, the largest provider of further and higher education and training in Northern Ireland, is deploying a Cisco® Unified Wireless Network around its central campus to provide very secure, yet easy and flexible, access to on-line learning resources. The wireless network also supports advanced mobility services, including location services, guest services and advanced security services. Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in the form of active Wi-Fi tagging will be used to protect expensive equipment, all of which can be centrally monitored.

The centralised management system also allows for the real-time identification and containment of rogue access points. Plans of the campus will pinpoint where an unauthorised network access or equipment theft is being attempted. Having a highly secure wireless network is particularly important at the start of the academic year, when new students need to access learning and student facilities and information quickly and easily with laptops that have never connected to the network before.

The wireless network is an extension of the institute’s wired Cisco network. It will use Cisco’s portfolio of network security software to enable thousands of students and staff to use laptops and mobile devices to access a wide range of on-line learning facilities - learning material, participating in online class discussions and submitting assignments - while significantly reducing the risk of viruses and other network threats. Cisco wireless security technology is designed to help ensure that any wireless enabled device that attempts to connect to the network will have to adhere to the institute’s security policies prior to access. The required security software will be verified or downloaded via the wireless network. The Belfast Institute will also be able to use the Cisco wireless network to offer wireless access - entirely separate from the main wireless network - to visitors.

Alan Dummigan, head of the Department of Learning & Teaching Resources at the Belfast Institute, said, “We have chosen Cisco to work with us in developing e-learning because it provides a state of the art solution - one that will enable the development of an open-access enterprise-class network system that provides vital education facilities faster, easier and on a flexible basis for all students.”

“The challenge of providing such flexibility and openness to students presents us with a big problem - almost exclusive to education providers - thousands of people accessing our network with computers over which we have little or no control. But with Cisco’s network security capability we are confident that we can deliver both greater accessibility and greater protection.” continued Dummigan.

The Cisco Unified Wireless Network at the Belfast Institute will be built using Cisco Aironet® access points and the Cisco Wireless Location Appliance, which is the industry’s first location solution that simultaneously tracks thousands of devices from within the network infrastructure. The wireless network will use the Cisco Wireless Control System (WCS) for cost-effective deployment and management of secure wireless networks. The existing wired network uses the Cisco Catalyst® 2960 Series Switches, Cisco Catalyst 3560 Series Switches, Cisco Catalyst 3750 Series Switches and Cisco Catalyst 4500 Series Switches. The Cisco wireless network at the Belfast Institute will be implemented by BT, a Cisco Gold Certified Partner.

About the Belfast Institute
The Belfast Institute is the largest provider of further and higher education and training in Northern Ireland. It has over 40,000 students enrolled on full-time and part-time courses, making it one of the largest colleges of further and higher education in the UK. It offers a comprehensive programme of fulltime courses in a wide range of disciplines and a full range of adult education courses in its buildings across the city, including around 200 out centres. The Institute is committed to providing a quality learning experience to all its students. Members of staff are highly qualified and experienced, regularly updating their qualifications and industrial experience to ensure the quality and relevance.

About Cisco Systems
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