Wi-Fi is the primary way students, faculty and staff access the internet and many university systems while on campus. Last year, there were more than 37,000 connections to the campus Wi-Fi networks each day. Most students connect at least two devices to a Wi-Fi network while on campus, usually a phone and a computer. Other devices that connect to the networks include smart watches, tablets, smart TVs, streaming devices and more. Unfortunately, the current network design on the Columbia campus does not adequately support the needs of our students and employees. As a result, the Division of Information Technology will begin a major upgrade to the wireless networks on the Columbia campus this summer.
On May 28, officials will begin a site survey of all buildings on campus in order to develop an improvement plan. Phase I of the project, which includes installation and upgrades in 26 residence halls, will begin as soon as May 29 and will be completed by August 1, before students return to campus for the 2020-21 academic year. Phase II will improve WiFi in all academic and administrative buildings and will be completed at a later date.
When the project is complete, students and employees will see improved performance and reliability, increased efficiency, fewer dropped connections, faster connectivity and better support for learning, teaching and research.
Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Doug Foster said several IT governance groups including the Student Advisory Committee, the Faculty & Staff IT Advisory Committee and the Faculty Senate IT Committee have expressed concerns with Wi-Fi on the Columbia campus. He said, “I am pleased we will be able to improve our students’ experience while on campus. It is more important than ever to provide reliable Wi-Fi connectivity for our students and employees.”
Foster said there are currently 4,050 wireless access points across campus. When the project is complete, there will be 10,500.