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Southeast works toward Wi-Fi improvements
Changes are in the works at Southeast to improve the Wi-Fi on campus.
President Carlos Vargas said moves are being made to better the Wi-Fi and to add a guest access Wi-Fi.
Floyd Davenport, assistant vice president of Information Technology, said the process to install the new Wi-Fi around campus began as early as last summer.
“We went through 15 different residential hall buildings and a couple academic buildings,” Davenport said. “We did surveys with special equipment so that we could measure the signal strength.”
Testing the new Wi-Fi has already begun on campus.
“We’ve already put a lot things in Scully to test this new equipment,” Davenport said. “We’re testing the management so we can go online and see what’s working, what’s not. They can send us notifications, we can look at the bandwidth and how it’s working all across campus.”
Some of the units for the new Wi-Fi are for specific spaces like in Towers East and Towers South, since the brick walls make it difficult for a signal to pick up.
All of this is connected through core switches connected to the Wi-Fi, which have been upgraded.
In the coming weeks, high-end switches are going to be put in where everything flows and go out to the internet.
“This is the first step,” Davenport said.
The next step, according to Davenport, is putting switches and units for the Wi-Fi in buildings, starting with Towers.
From there, Davenport said the process gets tricky.
“We have to get into rooms, we have to schedule, let people know we’re coming,” Davenport said. “All of this has to be coordinated.”
Most of the units purchased will cover all of the residential halls and will cover a lot of the space in the academic buildings but that will change, Davenport said, as they look at the design of each building.
A similar project to upgrade the Wi-Fi happened at Southeast 10 to 12 years ago.
Davenport said a lot has changed about the way they are handling the project this time around.
“The way we had it laid out compared to now, we had to redesign it,” Davenport said. “Technology has changed, we know a lot more now about how it works and how to manage it.”
Knowing more this time around helps, but there is still careful preparation about where the technology is located.
“We have to think about where new access points are going in, so we have to think about where to place them in the design,” Davenport said. “We have to think about the switch equipment since they are connected to cable.”
“Right now, we’re having to recable all of Dempster Hall. You’re talking about 400 or more cable pulls.”
According to Davenport, the equipment for the access points, just to get started, cost about $750,000.
Accounting for the Wi-Fi, fiber connections and upgrades and pulling cable, Davenport said the cost is about a little over $2.5 million.
Even though the process is supposed to take 18 months to two years, Davenport said everyone on campus should be pleased with the upgrades to the Wi-Fi.
“We’re getting new capabilities,” Davenport said. “We’re getting better, more reliable and high-bandwidth connectivity. We’re getting capabilities for guest networking, where people can come on campus and have an easier time to come in and connect and be a part of the campus community.”
Not everybody knows about the changes going on though, Davenport said.
“I’ve talked to Student Government some, we’ve talked to several entities on campus, we haven’t talk to the students a whole lot.”
Davenport said now it’s about everything falling into place.
“It’s just coming down to putting all the pieces together,” Davenport said. “Scheduling times where we can actually get out and work.”