Information Technology Services update residence area Wi-Fi infrastructure

Speeds to increase twelvefold following $1 million investment


University Information Technology Services spent the summer upgrading the wireless internet infrastructure in residence areas. Students in many University housing facilities should notice a substantial increase in speeds and coverage areas, while Wi-Fi upgrades in the remaining residential buildings will be done in the fall.

Keith Moores, the ITS director of network, telephone, and video services, said the previous wireless Internet infrastructure was about 10-years-old, installed in a time when a wired connection was the dominant way to connect to the Internet. The improvement project started between ITS and the Office of Housing and Residence Life at the end of last semester, and the housing office approved a budget of more than $1 million for the effort.

“[The previous system] was done by convenience,” Moores said. “Basically we wanted to cover, but not maximize performance. People were expected to primarily use wired connections at that time.”

Engineers were sent into the renovation with site survey tools in order to locate points where the signal would best propagate.

“We weren’t properly accounting for brick, cinderblock, metal walls,” Moores said. “We thought about it some, but now we think about it a lot more. Each building is its own challenge. Basically even if it has wireless, [we’re taking] it with fresh eyes.”

Additionally, ITS took note of student survey responses on performance.

‘We definitely got survey results saying people experienced poor performance, in certain locations,” Moores said.

The new Internet system will change Internet speeds from 54 megabits per second to 600 megabits per second.

Bonnycastle Resident Advisor Courtney Goodloe, a third-year College student, said she noticed a difference in the connection this year.

“There is definitely a better, stronger signal, because last year I had to hook my laptop up with a wire because the Internet would drop off at random points,” she said. “This year I have been able to connect without an ethernet cord.”

As many computers no longer even come equipped with ethernet ports, Moores said he hopes ITS will never have to ask students to connect via ethernet to test their connection.

Of the first-year dorms, only Kellogg, Woody and Cauthen have yet to be completed. The project will eventually extend to replace Wi-Fi in academic buildings and buildings that are newly opened or renovated.

“We are first focusing on the dormitories,” Moores said. “The wireless in the dorms is significantly better than most of the academic buildings at this point. We’ll start upgrading those in the fall.”

Moores said the project isn’t focused on outdoor Wi-Fi coverage, and any outdoor coverage would simply be a result of signal bleeding out from surrounding building. The focus, he said, is improving coverage inside rooms.

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