WiFi upgrade to result in speedier Internet connection on campus

Information Technology Services (I.T.S.) will upgrade the campus-wide WiFi infrastructure, resulting in speedier wireless Internet access on campus. I.T.S. will install the first access points in April, and expect to finish the project this summer.

Michael Sherer, the director of I.T.S., said, “Our current infrastructure was inexpensive to deploy, but labor intensive and not designed to handle the load that we were putting on it, so we began to experience hardware flakiness and failure.”

Over the past few years, wireless networking has shifted from being a useful supplement to being students’ preferred network option, said Sherer. Many students own two or three mobile technology devices, he said, which overwhelms the current WiFi network. I.T.S. recognized this shift early in the fall, and began planning an upgrade strategy designed to handle the increasing load.

“At it’s most basic, this project is about upgrading 215 existing wireless access points around campus to the latest WiFi standard (802.11N) and adding a central controller with great management tools that allow us to better monitor, manage and tune the WiFi network so it works the way users expect it to,” he said.

The network will be upgrading to Aruba’s AP-105 access point, rated for high-density locations.  More people will be able to connect to it simultaneously (theoretically, up to 128 people–almost 100 more simultaneous connects that the current system can handle).  The new model is also rated for up to 300 megabits per second (Mbps), much faster than the current system is rated for up to 54 Mbps. Although real world speeds are always slower–typically half the rated speed, said Sherer, the newer system should be significantly faster.

I.T.S. is also working on a Green Storage Initiative project.  For this project, I.T.S. is adding nearly 100 Terabytes of network storage, and consolidating or doing away with older, less efficient storage servers.  According to Sherer, this will result in saving $3,000 a year in electricity and cooling expenses (around 50,000 Kilowatt hours).

Alysha Landis
Written by Alysha Landis

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