Major Wireless Expansion on Campus

Mardigian Library First To Be Upgraded

While the campus has wireless coverage in all buildings, the rapid growth of mobile devices has caused  significant increase in demand for WiFi.  Buildings used heavily by students have been especially vulnerable to lower performance and greater difficulty accessing Wifi.  In response, campus leaders have designated and reserved resources for expansion of the campus wireless network over the next three years. 

ITS has taken the lead on developing a long range plan for upgrading wireless across campus.  As a first step, a site survey was conducted last fall to map the recommended number and placement of access points in each building.  Based on network statistics and feedback from students, high priority sites were identified.  They include Mardigian Library, University Center, CASL Building, Social Sciences Building, Engineering Lab Building, and Fairlane Center Campus.

During Winter term, ITS met with Student Government and committed to completing a major upgrade of the wireless network in Mardigian Library by start of Fall 2013.  That goal was met in late August 2013 when the new wireless system was activated in ML.  It required a highly coordinated effort between technical, facilities, and telecommunications teams.  Before wireless could be expanded in ML, significant upgrades to the core electrical and network infrastructure were required.  A new telecom closet was designed and outfitted, and new wiring was installed throughout.

As a result, the building backbone was increased from 1G to 10G uplink, which offers much faster speeds.  The previous base of twelve 802.11g access points was replaced with thirty-eight new 802.11n models.  These offer greater bandwidth and improved performance throughout the building, and include “clean air technology”, which minimizes interference and unexpected downtime. It is estimated that the number of concurrent users in Mardigian Library has more than tripled, increasing from 350 to over 1,100.

The next phase of the campus wireless expansion project includes four additional buildings — CASL Building, Fairlane Center, University Center, and Engineering Lab Building.  Planning has already begun and installations will be rolled out sequentially in these buildings during the next twelve months, with final completion targeted for Fall 2014.  The CASL Building upgrade is scheduled to be completed by January 2014.  It will include almost four times more access points (AP) than are currently available -- growing from 23 to 88 AP's. On the first floor of CASL Building alone, wireless will be expanded from ten AP's to 40, with one located near each classroom.

The Science Building (SB) wireless upgrades are being handled separately from the campus wireless project.  They are included in the major renovation that will be conducted in SB.  In addition to extensive physical updates, the network inside the building will be completely redone, including wireless.


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