Plan your network infrastructure
Many school Wi-Fi networks were originally deployed to provide coverage in specific classrooms, but not to support every student using their devices simultaneously throughout the school. In any deployment, assume that every student and teacher could be using their Apple device before, during, and after class—so you want to plan your infrastructure to accommodate a large number of devices in a given area.
Good Wi-Fi design begins with assessing how the network is used. Start by talking to teachers, administrators, and technology staff to determine user needs. An RF site survey is an important part of this process. Another good practice is to design the network with the actual client device that will be deployed in mind. After the final deployment, validate the site survey to make sure adequate coverage, capacity, and bandwidth have been achieved.
Network naming should also be considered when configuring your network. Depending on your organization, you might want to create multiple service set identifiers (SSIDs) for different purposes, like a network for contract workers or a guest network. Because SSIDs add management traffic to the network, be careful not to create more than you need, so there’s enough airtime available for data. Three or fewer SSIDs is a recommended target.
The goal of designing a network based on coverage is to make sure a Wi-Fi signal reaches all areas that need it, including common spaces, the gym, and cafeterias. With full Wi-Fi coverage, collaboration is constant and the walls of the classroom are expanded.
While Wi-Fi coverage is important, it’s critical for a network to support a sufficient density of devices. Make sure you have plenty of access points (AP) to support the number of simultaneous users in your environment. A design model based on capacity may include one access point for each classroom. The power output of each access point can be reduced to prevent the Wi-Fi signal of one access point from crossing into multiple classrooms.
Adequate internet bandwidth is absolutely necessary to support access to education content and classroom workflows. Consider deploying a carefully planned and monitored test group of devices first, which can provide essential data for full deployment requirements.
Consult your internet service provider for more information about bandwidth requirements for your organization.
For more information, see Usage optimization for Wi-Fi networks in Apple Platform Deployment.
Certificates and 802.1X
Your organization may use digital certificates to secure its network and communications. With support for 802.1X, make sure the RADIUS server is configured to allow at least one authentication protocol supported by Apple devices in use on the network.
For more information on 802.1X, see Connect Apple devices to 802.1X networks in Apple Platform Deployment.
How Apple devices work with Apple Push Notification service (APNs)
MDM solutions use the Apple Push Notification service (APNs) to maintain persistent communication with Apple devices across both public and private networks. Using APNs, Apple devices learn about updates, MDM policies, and incoming messages. MDM solutions require multiple certificates, including an APNs certificate to talk to devices, an SSL certificate to communicate securely, and a certificate to sign configuration profiles.
For more information, see Configure devices to work with APNs in Apple Platform Deployment and the Apple Support articles Unable to use Apple Push Notification service (APNs) and Use Apple products on enterprise networks.