The University of Queensland (UQ) is deploying what it claims is the world\u2019s largest 802.11n wireless network to underpin research, access and collaboration at the university.\nThe multi-million dollar upgrade to its existing wired and wireless network will see UoQ end up with about 70,000 ports and 4000 wireless access points across the university\u2019s four major campuses and 45 related sites.\nThe network will also underpin a major ramp up in new services to university\u2019s 38,000 students and 15,000 staff, said Nick Tate, director of information technology services and AusCERT at UQ. It will also see the piloting of high-end telepresence systems to limit the need for travel between campuses, bring researchers together and assist in the university\u2019s administration.\nAccording to Tate, the project, expected to be complete in the next 12-18 months, will help address core business issues such as overcoming geographical diversity -- such as providing connectivity to its Heron Island research site 80km off the coast of Queensland.\n\u201cOne of our big issues then is how do we as a university provide that kind of access to our students staff and important members of the community,\u201d he said. \u201cIt is important to us as that we do connect to the community as a university.\u201d\n\u201cOverlaid on that is that we are doing serious research. . . and it is important that were maintain the integrity of the data. . . which we need to transport quickly across our networks and overseas. Universities collaborate a lot and need to interconnect.\u201d\nMark Shultz, associate director of the center for education, innovation and technology at UoQ, said the new network would facilitate a range of new services, such as remote access and control of test labs and video-based assessment of students in areas such as nursing and orthopeadics.\nIt was also looking at a joint project with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, called Spoken Lecture, which would take video recorded lectures, strip out the audio and convert it to text. This text would then be time-stamped to make it searchable via a browser.\n\u201cWe don\u2019t see that students will sit around watching 50 minute lectures on their iPods -- they don\u2019t have the time or attention span,\u201d he said. \u201cThey want specific information, now.\u201d\n\u201cYou might also find that if someone does a keyword search, other content on that topic comes up from other lectures outside their area -- it opens up our content. If you make that service available beyond the campus, then high school students can also come in and see what\u2019s done at the university.\u201d\nPage Break\nTate said that UQ had opted for wireless networks due the increasing prevalence of mobile computing technology such smartphones, netbooks and notebooks, and the large number of users wanting to connect in small areas such as lecture theatres and cafes.\n\u201cWireless is important not only to handle density but also ubiquity,\u201d he said. \u201cIf you want to deliver services across our wireless network, it isn\u2019t very conducive for users if it keeps dropping out. It is also hard to deal with from an authentication point of view -- making sure we have connected with who we think we have.\u201d\nTate said UQ would address questions of secure access to the network through the creation of multiple security domains and the use of multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) technology.\nIt would also look to increase federated wireless access between universities and other institutions, such as Canada\u2019s University of Calgary, to allow roaming users to access the network with the same credentials\n\u201cWe\u2019re also an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and we are increasingly connecting schools -- we have about a dozen either connecting or connected to us - So we have to think about how to [securely] do that,\u201d he said.\nGiving a sense of scale of existing IT infrastructure at UQ, Tate said the university had about 70,000 current users, 21,000 permanent systems connected to the network, 13,000 mobile systems such as notebooks and smartphones, and about six supercomputers.