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Goffstown High’s new Wi-Fi network brings improved access

GOFFSTOWN — Students and teachers have improved access to online textbooks, assignments and research because of a new Wi-Fi system installed at the high school.

The older consumer-grade technology was recently replaced with a new wireless local area network, LAN, within the school. Before the upgrade, the technology department had spent a lot of time placing access points, making sure the channels didn’t overlap, worrying about radio frequency interference and troubleshooting connection issues.

“Our aging wireless infrastructure, which we built several years ago using consumer-grade equipment, was giving us trouble. It was no longer capable of meeting the demands of our teachers and students, especially at the high school where the use of technology in the classroom is very extensive,” said Gary Girolimon, director of technology.

The installation of 37 access points of the Meru Education-grade Gigabit Wi-Fi technology will eliminate daily connection issues and increase teacher effectiveness in the classroom. In the future, the school district plans to expand the gigabit Wi-Fi to the middle and elementary schools.

“Teachers need to be confident that when they bring a cart of 20 or more wireless capable laptops into their classroom the technology will be fully operational. The students need to be able to log in and access the resources required for the assignment, whether those resources are on the local network in the building, or out on the Internet,” said Girolimon. “Due to the design, capabilities and age of our wireless infrastructure, we were no longer confident that we were providing the network reliability that makes the use of these digital-learning tools effective. The installation of the new Meru 802.11ac technology has been a huge step forward in providing that reliability.”

The project was funded by an $18,000 incentive grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Adult and Vocational Education. To qualify for the grant, the Goffstown School District had to meet or surpass the core performance levels set by the U.S. DOE for the past school year for adult education and youth programs. Goffstown was among 11 states that received the grants. The grant provided a complete replacement of the wireless infrastructure at Goffstown High School.

The new system cost $15,000 and the remaining $3,000 will go toward enabling TV broadcasts on the wired computer network at the high school directly to the Goffstown Community Access Television studio, said Girolimon.

“This has also been a very successful implementation and, for the first time, GTV is able to broadcast meetings and sporting events live from our high school building and sports fields,” he said.

The system was recently installed by the district’s technology staff with help from two New Hampshire Technical Institute professors, William Shurbert and Fred Lance; and four NHTI students, Ferris Al Kurabi, Michael Engelsen, David Connor and Jacki Johnson, who also learned about the technology and proper installation at the same time.

“Over the years, we have developed a great relationship with NHTI, and every spring our tech team hosts a student intern from the college,” said Girolimon. “Adam Bouchard, Meru sales manager, and Ken Birse, Meru’s local system engineer, were present and spent some time providing an in-depth introduction to the new wireless technology. This was of benefit to us, as well as the students in attendance.”

The new Meru wireless infrastructure has been working well, he said.

The new system also opens the door to allow for students and the community to bring their own devices to the school — a move that some districts, such as Bedford, are considering to cut costs.

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