Wireless network is getting a powerful boost

Work on a $4 million wireless network upgrade to academic and student areas is under way this summer. The project, which includes the installation of miles of wiring, thousands of ethernet jacks and the latest technology in wireless access points, will take an estimated two years to complete.

Survey says ...

ITS invested in a $250,000 survey of campus wireless access during the spring semester. The data was used to design and map the service upgrades.

"We are focusing on campus buildings -- faculty, staff and student space," said Jennifer Lohrbach, senior systems analyst for information technology services (ITS). "Academic space is a priority and office space is not being ignored."

Lohrbach said more than a dozen campus buildings will be upgraded by the fall semester. Ross, Gilman and Snedecor halls are done, along with the Hub and Administrative Services Building. Upgrades are in progress at Parks Library, College of Veterinary Medicine, Biorenewables Research Laboratory and Sweeney Hall.

"We are covering areas with the highest concentration of use, adding a tremendous amount of access points that will handle more users and more bandwidth per user," Lohrbach said.

For instance, 158 wireless access points were added to Gilman and 460 more are being installed throughout Vet Med. Parks Library is gaining 148 more access points, including six more in its reading room alone.

"It will offer better access and higher speeds for users through load sharing," Lohrbach said.

Half of the project is being funded by the Computation Advisory Committee, which oversees spending of student technology fees. The matching $2 million is from a pool of central funds.

Residence upgrades

ITS also is partnering with the department of residence on a separate $1 million upgrade for campus residence halls and the Frederiksen Court apartment complex. That work is scheduled for completion by March 2015.

"The project will add access points to each residence hall room and every Frederiksen Court apartment," said residence director Pete Englin. "Frederiksen Court and Maple, Buchanan, Eaton and Martin halls will have wireless speeds of 100 Mbps at each access point. Older residence halls will have speeds estimated at 10 Mbps."

He said performance speeds differ due to capacity limits of the existing wires in the older buildings. Upgrades to the wiring are part of future plans.