Students twice as likely to have 802.11n devices as everyone else

A survey conducted by Meraki, a vendor of wireless mesh networking equipment, shows a dramatic increase in the use of 802.11n on campuses. Meraki’s Higher Education Wireless Census collected data from 10,000 randomly selected devices in 24 higher education institutions, and compared them against activity seen by 10,000 randomly selected devices in general use networks. The census looked at 802.11n adoption, operating system popularity, bandwidth usage, and use patterns. Here’s what they found:

  • Nearly twice as many devices surveyed on campus are 802.11n capable, compared to off-campus.
  • Of the 10,000 devices surveyed, 36% of on-campus devices were 802.11n capable, versus 21% of off-campus devices.
  • Windows XP/Vista is still the leading operating system both on- and off-campus with 59% of devices on-campus and 64% of devices off-campus using Windows.
  • Mac OS X represents a growing market share on-campus versus off-campus with 24% of devices on-campus. Of off-campus devices surveyed, 14% use the Mac OS X.
  • The iPhone is becoming a popular device both on- and off-campus accounting for 15% of all wireless devices.


When it comes to bandwidth consumption, there’s no surprise: students consume 3.3 times as much bandwidth per device as the typical Wi-Fi users. Students commonly stream video at a sustained 1-2Mbit/sec rate from Hulu and YouTube during peak times. Video accounts for 70-80% of all bandwidth traffic on-campus.


Mobility is another key area of growth on-campus. Meraki specifically looked at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California as a test site. Findings show that 60% of all devices on the Westmont campus connect to the wireless network from 10 or more locations on the campus. Westmont’s students have an average of 1.54 devices each, and connect to the wireless network a minimum of 20 days per month.

“Students at higher education institutions help us predict the future of wireless adoption and show us where the market is headed,” said Sanjit Biswas, CEO and co-founder of Meraki. “Colleges have always been on the cutting edge of technology. Younger students are using wireless in ways that the general public just isn’t yet. When you look at the amount bandwidth consumed at higher education institutions, having a high performance and reliable wireless network is imperative.”

Meraki Higher Education Census Methodology

The Meraki Higher Education Census surveyed 10,000 randomly selected clients in 24 higher education institutions in North America, and 10,000 randomly selected clients deployed in 2,116 general usage networks. The data was pulled during a one-month period, September 20, 2009 through October 20, 2009, while all higher education institutions were in session. All networks surveyed had five or more active access points, which was required for mobility comparison. The purpose was to identify wireless usage trends in higher education institutions.

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