E-Rate Wi-Fi Checklist

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Goal – Build an infrastructure that will support our wired and wireless devices, including the maintenance and support to efficiently manage the devices.  Following are some general suggestions about the network that should be considered as the responsibility of the vendor:

The capacity of the wireless network should allow 30 students per classroom to simultaneously conduct moderate to heavy Web access for research including video streaming. In addition to “density” in the classrooms, we also need the same capabilities for network access in the following areas:

A complete post-installation site survey shall be completed to show that all educational and office spaces have a minimum RSSI of -65 dBm (in both the 2.4 GHZ and 5 GHZ bands) in all locations of those areas. This survey shall be provided to the district once complete.

All work not found in conformance with the intent of the proposal shall be repaired promptly at no additional charge to the district

Vendor is responsible for all project management; this is to be a turn-key solution with involvement of district staff limited to specification of network security parameters, VLAN definition, and installation of any needed services on district-owned servers.

Information that should be required from all vendors:

The proposal shall be concise but include the following information:

  • Statement of compliance – Provide a statement that your company will comply will all the bid specifications, including those regarding performance and correction of any performance issues
  • Pricing – Provide itemized pricing for each location/item.  ALL warranty and support charges for three years, as well as information on any items NOT covered by E-Rate
  • Warranty – Provide manufacturer’s warranty information
  • Product Specifications – Provide manufacturer’s spec sheets that support all required equipment and software specifications
  • Provide information regarding location and experience in regards to service and support
  • Provide information regarding in-state experience in deploying wireless in K12
  • Provide three in-state K12 references where your company has deployed wireless using controllers and access points of the manufacturer you are proposing
  • Detailed Statement of Work
  • Sample Contracts
  • Current USAC SPAC information
  • Wireless manufacturer’s letter certifying that you have been a reseller for at least one year

Following are some criteria you should require when evaluating the vendor:

  • Price
  • Complete adherence to bid specifications –
  • Local service and Support location and experience –
  • Installer Qualifications and Experience –
  • Quality of References –

Switches – What kind of minimum specifications do I need to require for the switches?  Layer 3, gig capable switches (expandable to 10 and 40Gbps), with POE or POE+ that supports the AP’s being provided.   Lifetime warranty.  Any other costs for FIVE YEARS including software updates and technical assistance support.  List what IS NOT E-Rate eligible.

Wireless Controller(s) – For most school districts, centralized redundant controllers are the best solution.  Closely examine the management software that comes with the controller for security, simplicity, and flexibility.  Make sure you require support on the controllers, and require the vendor to provide costs for years one through three.  Identify what is NOT E-Rate eligible.  Make sure you require that the AP’s be able to continue to operate if the controller(s) are unavailable.  Following are some features that should be expected of the controller/network management software:

1) Redundant controllers are required.  Each controller must be able to support up to 500 AP’s and 1024 WLANs. (Initially at least 25 extra licenses)

2) Web-based configuration wizard

3) Rogue AP detection, interference detection, band steering, airtime fairness, role-based user        policies, per-user rate-limiting, hotspot and guest networking services

4) Customizable dashboard, including graphical map view, provides comprehensive at-a-glance network snapshot and allows drill down to troubleshoot wireless problems

5)  Maximizes data throughput by sending all data traffic directly from the access points to the wired network (not back to the controller)

6)  Thin 1U rack-mountable footprint

8)  Lifetime warranty coverage, include ALL on-going costs for three years

9)  Performance monitoring and statistics

Access Points – Do I need to require AC access points?  Yes, 2X2 AC access points for classrooms, and 3X3 AC access points for common areas.  By the time your application is funded and ready to install, AC will be mature enough that the hardware will install will be very effective.  Also, the price of AC access points has dropped dramatically and they are not much more expensive than “N” access points.  Require a lifetime warranty.  Require full disclosure of any on-going costs for years one thru five.  Below are some minimum standards for the access points:

Classroom Access Point Minimum Specifications

(IF budget is a big issue, use the 2X2, costs approx. $150 less per AP than 3X3)

  • Dual-Band 2X2:2 802.11AC Smart Wi-Fi Access Points
  • Requires only standard 802.3af Power over Ethernet
  • POE Adapter required for each Access Point
  • Lifetime Warranty (Disclose ALL on-going costs for three years)

(IF budget is not a big issue, use the 3X3)

  • Dual-Band 3X3:3 802.11AC Smart Wi-Fi Access Points
  • Requires only standard 802.3af Power over Ethernet
  • POE Adapter required for each Access Point
  • Lifetime Warranty (Disclose all on-going for three years)
  • Must ship WAVE 2 model at no extra charge, if available upon implementation

 Non-Classroom Access Point Minimum Specifications (ie labs, cafeterias, etc)

  • Dual-Band 3X3:3 802.11AC Smart Wi-Fi Access Points
  • Requires only standard 802.3af Power over Ethernet
  • POE Adapter required for each Access Point
  • Lifetime Warranty (Disclose all on-going for three years)
  • Must ship WAVE 2 model at no extra charge, if available upon implementation

Coverage – Since we don’t know how long E-Rate funding for infrastructure will last, you should assume that over the next five years every student will have a school issued device and at least one personal device on your network.  Therefore, you should ask for density coverage that will support this.  AP’s are different, even if you specify 2X2 or 3X3 AC access points.  Put the burden on the vendor to determine quantity and placement of access points.  Include a statement such as this:  The capacity of the wireless network should allow 30 students per classroom to simultaneously conduct moderate to heavy Web access for research including video streaming. In addition to “density” in the classrooms, we also need the same capabilities for network access in multipurpose areas such as offices, cafeterias, gymnasiums, auditoriums, band/choral rooms, etc.  The entire school must be designed for capacity coverage.

Before a decision for an award is made, the vendor will be required to demonstrate the capacity of the network proposed, as well as the network management capabilities of the system. (Make sure you allow enough time in your decision-making process for this)

Cabling –Type of cable.  Should always state category 6 or better.

HOW the cable should be installed (J Hooks, etc)  Cable pathways should always utilize J Hooks, and/or cable tray as needed.

Standards that should be followed.  Always follow BICSI standards for copper and fiber installations.

Labeling. Pre-printed vinyl labels, no paper or handwritten labeling.  Schematic for entire network when completed.

Standards for the closet – Patch panels, UPS, Racks, etc  Utilize patch panels, vertical and horizontal wire management as needed.

Certifications.  State Board of Contractors license.

Walk-through – Require a walkthrough for all vendors who plan to bid.  When you send out your bid, provide drawings of all the facilities in addition to the bid specs so that vendors can have time to understand the opportunity.  Make sure the drawings are to scale, or at least label them with the dimensions of the buildings.  Identify any outdoor coverage areas.

Allow questions for a period of time after the walkthrough, then issue an addendum to answer the questions.  Make it clear that only the written addendum constitutes a change in the specifications.

Evaluation – What should be the criteria for selecting the best vendor

  • Price, including on-going costs for five years
  • Results of Benchmark testing
  • Comprehensiveness and ease of use of network management software
  • Local References in K12
  • Local installation and support
InCare K12

Author: InCare K12

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