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The Park West School Division covers 15 schools, K-12, in rural Manitoba, Canada. The schools are spread over thousands of square kilometers. Driving from one end of the division to the other takes over an hour and a half. Even though the schools and their communities are far apart, there’s a shared determination about providing a better future for all 2,100 students. Stephen David, Superintendent and CEO, talks about preparing students for the world by bringing the world to students.
Ideally, that vision means full participation in the digital world. But bringing digital learning to these schools has been tough.
Like many parts of rural Canada, the Park West School Division lacked good broadband service. Then, about two years ago, Park West School Division along with several of the rural municipalities buried dark fiber across the region. This 230 km of dark fiber gave the municipalities’ access to better internet services and the school division access to a future proof network. For the first time, every school had a 10 GB fiber backbone to enable high-speed Internet access. Now the ICT team could tackle the old Wi-Fi and switching networks.
- The legacy Wi-Fi vendor was exiting the market, leaving the ICT team with an inadequate, hard to manage network
- The existing Wi-Fi was incapable of supporting a digital learning program
- The three-person ICT team spent too much time dealing with Wi-Fi problems
- The switching infrastructure was also outdated and inadequate
- 200 indoor 802.11ac APs
- 6 ICX switches
- Virtual SmartZone
- Each school in the division is fully covered with high-performance free Wi-Fi
- The network is future proofed to support 25 computers in each classroom plus personal devices
- All of the APs in the schools can be managed remotely by the ICT team
- The free Wi-Fi helps communities with no (or poor) cell service and supports schoolbased community events