Home News WIFI at Concordia gets much needed upgrade

WIFI at Concordia gets much needed upgrade

by Archives February 5, 2008

WI-FI users at Concordia are now enjoying faster speeds and more reliability at the Mezzanine, Java-U and other lounge areas around campus. Instructional and Informational Technology Services (IITS), the University’s IT service, is upgrading its’ wireless access points with industry-leading technology.
According to Andrew McCausland, associate vice-president of IITS, information technology is all about “managing change.”
“We’re trying to catch up. Every year, we have a whole new set of clients, 5000 new people coming in on stream, and they got new equipment,” he said.
Called 802.11n, the new access points will provide faster speeds and stronger signals for students. They can serve up to 2.5 times the amount of WIFI users at one location and also has twice the range of existing access points still using older technology such as 802.11g or 802.11b. This means less blind spots or less places where the signal weakens considerably.
This is good news to music student Jeremy Cantor, who has reason to complain about his wireless access.
“I do get some problems sometimes, especially when you start to connect. It doesn’t work sometimes, it takes too long sometimes. For downloading and streaming, it’s not fast,” said Cantor. “It does change depending on where you are for sure,” he added.
“It’s poop,” said Joanni Huverdeau, another student working with her laptop. “It’s really slow, and half the time it doesn’t log on. And when you actually do get logged on, it bumps you off about every 10 to 15 minutes,” said the neuroscience student.
She said that she runs into problems regularly at Loyola’s CC building, that wireless access is particularly bad across the quad in the SP building.
Currently 20-30 access points have been upgraded so far, in areas where IITS has detected a consistently high concentration of users. However, as the upgrade is not being funded separately by the university but by IITS’s own yearly budget, the upgrade will happen incrementally. Priority will be given to places where demand is the highest, typically where students congregate with their laptops.
Concordia is the first university in North America to upgrade to “11n,” according to its supplier CISCO Systems Inc, in an article published on a tech webzine.
McCausland estimates that around while four years ago 100-200 users logged on simultaneously; today, that number has grown to 3000. Because of the rapid increase in users, which McCausland said is around “three percentage points” per semester, the existing system before “11n” was struggling to cope.
“It was unbelievable. It was under huge pressure everywhere,” he said. “But in any educational environment such as a university, wireless is in a de facto position. You [must] have it.”
McCausland estimates that in less than three years, all 200 or so access points at Concordia will be replaced with “11n.”

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