Campus Wi-Fi gets a facelift

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Last year the number of client devices in the DePauw community outgrew the capacity of our campus Wi-Fi's capabilities. At the end of the academic year the campus network team decided to implement a new system and design that will provide better 5GHZ and 803.11ac/n coverage and improve WiFi across campus.

The last Wi-Fi upgrade took place in 2003 when the number of Wi-Fi dependent devices was not as high per client.

“Everyone has multiple devices and wireless networking is a shared access,” said Carol Smith, Chief information of department services for DePauw’s network team.  

Smith estimates that most people on DePauw’s campus own and operate an average of three devices connecting to Wi-Fi.

“There is sort of a fine tuning to how many devices for each access point, the existing system did not have enough access points in the right places,” said Smith.   

The upgrade will be completed in several phases, with hopes of the project being completed in the next two years. The first phase of this upgrade began this summer and focuses on replacing or adding Wi-Fi access points in student living spaces and popular study spaces. By the first day of classes this semester, new access points were updated or installed in several residence halls* and Roy O. West Library.

The upgrade began with the new fiscal year and today up to two hundred new Wi-Fi access points have been installed raising the total number of Wi-Fi access points to 640. By adding more access points, Wi-Fi becomes less difficult to share with multiple users.

“The new system is much better designed for the capacity for the number of devices it can support,” said Smith.

The network team has confirmed that they have already received feedback from students in residence halls claiming that the new system is much faster and more reliable than last year. Despite the positive feedback, students are still voicing concerns about the Wi-Fi.

“This year as a First-Year resident assistant (FYRA) in Bishop Roberts, the Wi-Fi has gotten worse. My residents complained about the lack of Wi-Fi and service in our residence hall and how they have to leave their rooms to do anything,” said FYRA Lindsey Jones.

FYRA Aislee Nieves of Humbert 3 felt differently. "I definitely notice a difference in the Wi-Fi this year! Last year the Wi-Fi was decent, but there were many instances where the system will go down or be very delayed.” Said Nieves. “However, this year started off great when it comes to the Wi-Fi, I notice the speed of the Wi-Fi totally got better and no matter how many people seem to be using it, it seems to run smoothly."

Across campus from the first-year dorms commonly referred to as South Quad, upperclass resident Christina Seung, chimed in and said, "this year the Wi-Fi is not too bad, but sometimes it has to reconnect every time I open my laptop which I think is weird." Seung lives in a duplex near Roy O. West Library.

It will take time for all of the updates to be installed and that is when we will tell if the updates have improved the Wi-Fi for students or not.

Smith wants to insure students that the network team appreciates feedback and strives to meet campus needs.

“I encourage people to report issues of difficulties, report it to the Help Desk, if we don’t know what is happening we can’t fix it. We want to know about it, ” said Smith.

*Those residence halls units include: Lucy Rowlands Hall, Rector Village, Mason Hall, Anderson St. Hall, Senior Hall, and Bishop Roberts Hall