In general, the performance of the online testing system will depend on a number of factors, including bandwidth, total number of students simultaneously testing, size of test content, secure browser installation, proxy server (if used), and wireless networking solution (if used). As the number of students testing increases, competition for network bandwidth increases. Network bandwidth resembles highway traffic; as the number of cars traveling on a given road increases, the speed of traffic flow decreases.
The optimal number of student workstations supported by a single wireless connection will depend on the type of networking standard being used for the connection. The two most common networking standards are 802.11g (54M bits per second) and the newer and faster standard, 802.11n (300M bits per second). Both the access point, which emits the wireless signal, and the computer’s wireless card, which receives the signal, will use one of these two standards. The recommendations below are based on the standard in use:
- Wireless connections using an 802.11g access point can reliably support a maximum of 20 PC and/or Mac workstations that use wireless cards with either the 802.11g or the 802.11n standard.
- Wireless connections using an 802.11n access point can reliably support a greater number of workstations; however, the make and model of the 802.11n access point will affect the number of additional workstations that the access point can support. Thus, the manufacturer’s documentation should be consulted for verification.
Typically, when all workstations are using an 802.11n wireless card, the 802.11n access point can support approximately 40 computers. In cases where the workstation wireless cards are a mix of both 802.11n and 802.11g, supported connections should not exceed 50 workstations.