tidBiTS
Informs and engages the UNB community on IT developments and news

Briefing - Wireless renewal 2018

Author: tidBiTS

Posted on May 17, 2018

Category: General Interest , News , Management Briefings

I am pleased and excited to announce that the entire wireless network across UNB is being replaced over the summer and early fall. ITS has selected Extreme Networks as our wireless vendor, and we are working closely with them and Bell Aliant (our reseller partner) to design and install the new system.

Wireless networking, or Wi-Fi, has become as essential to our daily lives as electricity and running water. Students, faculty, staff, and visitors routinely bring between 1 and 3 Wi-Fi enabled devices—smartphones, tablets, laptops—with them each and every time they come to our campuses; reliable, high-capacity connectivity is expected and demanded. With an average of 6500 concurrent Wi-Fi connections at peak times throughout a typical term, usage is astronomical; merely keeping up is a constant challenge, and with Wi-Fi technology constantly improving and usage growing, ITS is at times hard-pressed to deliver the services our community needs. To illustrate, our student and staff/faculty IT satisfaction surveys consistently show that wireless coverage and bandwidth are by far the most common complaints with IT services across the university.

The new generation of Wi-Fi being installed this year incorporates the latest wireless technologies (802.11ac in case you’re interested), allowing us to increase capacity, bandwidth, and number of connection points, while enhancing security—all without increasing costs. The rollout will start with the new kinesiology building on the Fredericton campus, then to all academic spaces (classrooms, lecture theatres, libraries, etc.) across Fredericton, Saint John, and Moncton, then to remaining public and non-academic areas.

The Wi-Fi renewal project required an investment of $650,000 in capital funding, most of it going to equipment but some also to reconfiguring wiring for optimal placement of new access points. ITS acknowledges and thanks facilities staff across UNB for their hard work and dedication to ensuring the project comes in on time and on budget.

While we’re at it, we’ll be making a few changes to how users recognize which wireless network they need to connect to. When the project is fully completed, we will change the connection name (aka SSID) of the wireless network to ‘eduroam’, from the current ‘MyUNB WiFi’ or variations thereof; this will much simplify access for all users, including from St. Thomas University, whose students, faculty and staff frequently need to use UNB WiFi. Other users from participating institutions across the world will also recognize and use the eduroam service for seamless, easy access to WiFi.

Terry Nikkel, AVP, ITS, May 15, 2018

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