Unis upgrade networks for hyperconnected students

Three Australian universities have announced substantial, multi-million dollar network upgrades in as many days, as the higher education sector moves to come up to speed with campus users.

Three Australian universities have announced substantial, multi-million dollar network upgrades in as many days, as the higher education sector moves to come up to speed with tech-savvy campus users.

After the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) announced its AU$7 million network upgrade yesterday, Sydney's Macquarie University and Perth's Edith Cowan University have both inked deals to upgrade their services today.

"Our network is very different from a corporate or government network because the number of connections and users is much higher, the spread of the network much greater, and we don't have as much control over the types of connected devices," Peter Holes, Macquarie's infrastructure services manager, said in a statement.

"You could also say our users are very different; a generation for whom technology is not 'magic' and 24/7 uptime is expected," he said.

Macquarie migrated many of its critical services to the Web some years ago, including lectures and exam results, but with the number of courses and students at the university growing both online and offline Holes remarked that the universities' old network structure "has been showing its age".

Mark Stevens, managing director of Nortel Australia and New Zealand, contractor for all three universities' networking services, described the tertiary education sector as one of the most complex environments to work with, given the number of users and devices a campus network is expected to serve.

Macquarie will be upgrading its entire network infrastructure, and replacing it with a new system with extended capabilities for video conferencing and IP telephony.

"Hyperconnectivity -- where everything that can be connected, will be -- is not a passing phase that can be addressed with off-the-shelf products or last-generation technology," he said, adding that there is no "one size fits all network" for universities.

Although Macquarie and Nortel have had a long association, today's announcement signifies a new deal struck between the two. Meanwhile, the networker is providing upgrades to Perth's Edith Cowan University as the second phase of existing arrangements with the institution.

The next stage of upgrades at Edith Cowan will also feature video conferencing capabilities and a framework for unified communications.

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