Information Technology Services

Going Digital with Joey Brenn

Wireless on Campus is Improving

by Joey Brenn | Oct 23, 2013

We have been getting a lot of questions about the wireless on campus, particularly from the Residence Hall students.  Our most common question is about how the wireless really slows down from about 4pm and onwards.  This occurs because most of the students have returned to their rooms to do homework, work on projects, catch up with friends, or simply browse the Internet.  So is the wireless slow?  The correct answer is, “it depends.”  It depends on quite a few factors all of which culminate into a slow response on wireless devices and in many cases on the wired network as well.

The good news is that Information Technology has spoken with quite a few students about exactly what is slow and we have been hard at work looking at solutions and making the necessary purchases to make things better.  So what are we doing?  Let me count the ways!

  1. Kleist Hall has new wiring installed for 4 new access points, one on each floor.  So instead of the original three, we will be moving the center ones (located in the laundry rooms) to the right wing hall way and install a new access point in the left wing hall way.  This will give us a stronger signal on all floors and improve through put.
  2. SRC South will see the installation of a new wireless vendor called Aerohive.  Aerohive treats each access point as a switch and this building will see an increase in the number of access points to address the density issue in this building.  The number of access points will be increased from the current configuration of 6 to 30.This configuration means that each suite will have its own access point and there will not be any weak wireless signal in the building.  In addition, we are installing new switches to provide a 1GB connection between each access point and the building switch.  The building switch will then have its own fiber connection back to the Data Center.  This is the model that we have chosen going forward and we believe it will make SRC South the strongest wireless on the campus.  That is until the new residence hall opens next fall!
  3. Highrise is getting quite an upgrade on the entire networking infrastructure which is long overdue.  First, we will be increasing the number of access points in the building by 12 bringing the number of wireless access points in the building to 44.These will be placed in the middle of the hallways on both sides of the elevator and the existing access points will be spread out to the corners.  This will increase the wireless density in this building and will address some of problems experienced by individuals after 4 pm, particularly the ones closest to the windows in the corners of the building.Secondly, we will be replacing the entire suite of network switches with a larger, more dense core switch.  This will mean that each wired connection in the building will be a 1GB connection directly back to the switch.  The entire switch will then have a 10GB connection back to the Data Center.  This will be the first building in a series planned to move all buildings to a 10GB connection back to the Data Center.  Through put to this building will vastly improve and is expected to be the model for all other buildings going forward.
  4. We will then increase wireless access points in several other areas of the campus where we have seen demand or received complaints of weak signals.  I will write about these at another time.

This sounds good but how much longer do you have to wait?  Not long, we waited until we received all of the equipment and supplies before we decided to tell you the good news.  You may have already seen the Information Technology technicians installing the new access points, running wire, terminating ends and testing the wireless.  We will complete these items as quickly as we can so students can start enjoying them immediately and we can start measuring the results.

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