Sydney Catholic schools go wireless

Seventy-five Catholic schools in western Sydney and their central administration office are expected to be linked by wireless network under a project now underway. The network -- which is eventually expected to cover around 42,000 students and 3,500 staff -- is designed to slash operating expenses and allow teachers more flexible access to Internet and intranet resources.

Seventy-five Catholic schools in western Sydney and their central administration office are expected to be linked by wireless network under a project now underway.

The network -- which is eventually expected to cover around 42,000 students and 3,500 staff -- is designed to slash operating expenses and allow teachers more flexible access to Internet and intranet resources.

The project is being managed by the Catholic Education Office in Parramatta.

Cisco -- which is supplying the network infrastructure -- eagerly touted its security features in a statement today. "Network features such as security parameters can be managed centrally, so any changes to network configurations are automatically populated to all remote points," it said.

Andrew Cooper, head of the Learning and Information Technology Division at the office, told ZDNet Australia  the initial rollout of 300 laptop computers -- completed in March -- had saved the organisation around AU$20,000 up front on wiring and cables.

However, overall savings were harder to estimate, Cooper conceded. "We haven't quantified the cost savings with the new wireless solution because we can't predict how many laptops we will be getting". He said a review was scheduled for the third quarter this year which would determine how the rollout would proceed. "If we get positive feedback after our review, we will definitely be extending the solution [next year]. At the moment, we have set arrangements for schools to extend by themselves and a number of schools have already done so," he said.

Cooper said the office needed to continuously manage and balance the wireless points with the number of laptops available in the schools.