1  Wireless in the Eastern Residence Halls

Students experiencing wireless difficulties in the residence halls should first try using BYOD5. BYOD5 works in many locations and mitigates the interference prevalent with BYOD. EduRoam may select 2.4 GHz as the stronger signal, but the 2.4 GHz signal strength changes often and the connection may deteriorate. For the best performance, it may be necessary to select a different SSID at different locations.

ITS continues to work on resolving the wireless problems reported in some of the residence halls. Based on ITS’s troubleshooting as well as user reports, it appears upgrading the wireless infrastructure is the likely solution. ITS is contracting with a vendor to assist in the design and planning of this effort, and will begin the upgrade as soon as possible.

In the short term, the reported interference usually originates from devices that use Wi-Fi direct that interferes with the BYOD frequency (2.4 Ghz). These peripheral devices include printers, TVs and Roku-like devices and PlayStations. We request that residents shut these devices down when not in use, since disabling the Wi-Fi transmissions they emit can be difficult or impossible. The best performance will come from using BYOD5 (5 Ghz) when available. Unfortunately, BYOD5 does not travel as far as BYOD which is the reason to turn off all peripheral devices not in use because they interfere exclusively and significantly with BYOD.

The university residence hall network has been evolving at an increasing pace due primarily to the changes in the devices that students are bringing to campus. Not long ago, the majority of students had only one or two devices that connected to the network, typically with a wired connection. The residence halls were then appropriately wired with one port per resident.

That pattern has changed dramatically in the last few years. Students now bring as many as eight devices to campus and most of them are wireless only. This semester there are well over 24,000 registered wireless devices. There were never more than 3,000-wired jacks so that would make up a tiny minority of use today. The only way to connect that many devices is to do it wirelessly, especially since most of them do not have a wired alternative.

It is not cost effective to improve both the wired and wireless networks. In addition, the increasing number of wireless access points must use the wired Internet jacks. Also, this year students were provided with ipv6 connectivity permitting them to play multi-user games that we could not support on the wired network.

Furthermore, some students were bringing in their own personal access points and connecting them to the wired jacks. In a low-density environment, such as at home, that is an appropriate course of action. In the high-density radio environment of the residence halls, however, these “rogue” access points cause every neighboring device to perform very poorly or not at all. After several years of trying, we found it virtually impossible to eliminate these “rogues” as long as wired jacks were available.

It is important to know that the relative performance of wired versus wireless services is not constant. Wireless performance depends on the quality of the wireless signal, the version of the wireless access point, and the client accessing the wireless network. Older access points and wireless client device radios are much slower than a wired connection. The next generation of access points and clients, however, are actually as fast as, or faster, than wired. The university is contracting with a wireless consultant with higher education experience to assist us in preparing for the next generation of wireless that will support these new speeds and to address the pockets of poor performance that students are experiencing.

The initial wireless network deployment was identical in every residence hall. The construction layout of the building and the devices used by building residents, however, vary widely. Newer buildings, for example, are actually more problematic for wireless signal quality than older ones. ITS plans to upgrade the most troublesome locations first. We are already conducting tests, and expect to be working with the consultants in November. We plan to begin implementing the recommendations as soon as feasible.