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by Mike Zazaian October 9, 2006 - 4:56pm, 3 Comments

Schematic of Ohio State's WiFi coverage over the various phases of the Mobile Edge project

Aruba Networks has begun to install what it claims will be the world’s largest WiFi network on the Campus of Ohio State University

The network, which will be built over a five-year span, will provide WiFi access to the more than 400 buildings on Ohio State’s 1,700 acre campus. Dubbed Mobile Edge, Aruba’s network will include as many 10,000 wireless access points by the end of implementation.

And while the network will take nearly half a decade to reach full strength, the University’s 50,000 students and 27,000 faculty and staff are already noticing exceptional WiFi coverage from the parts of the network that have been already installed. Said Bob Corbin,
director of telecommunications and networking at Ohio State’s Office
of Information Technology:

Within a mere three weeks, we have been able to activate over 1,700 APs in 28 buildings.

In addition to giving students ubiquitous WiFi coverage, the Mobile Edge network could also change students’ relationships with their cell phones. Recently released mobile VOIP phones such as Netgear’s SPH101 Skype phone could save students enormous amounts on cell phone bills. While such VOIP phones have been limited by patchy WiFi coverage in the past, a pervasive network such as the one at Ohio State make the free calls of a mobile VOIP phone a much more viable solution.

Readers should be dubious about Aruba’s claim to have built the world’s largest WiFi network, however. While Aruba’s network may implement the largest number of access points, it’s coverage area of 1,700 acres is far from tops. That title in fact belongs to Google, who’s GoogleFi network in Mountain View, California provides connectivity to 72,000 residents of the 7,680 acre city (12 square miles). GoogleFi provides free high-speed WiFi access, supporting itself in the true Google fashion with advertisements rather than monthly payments.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Aruba’s network held the record for most expensive WiFi network, though, as GoogleFi cost the company only $1 million to implement using 380 light pole-mounted transceivers to bounce wireless poles throughout the region. It would be impressive if Aruba’s network, with its 40 mobility controllers and 10,000 access points, could keep its costs under the Million dollar mark.

[via PRNewswire]