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Wireless Upgrade

Successfully Completed

Overview

As an initiative of the College’s strategic plan, a multi-year wireless project to provide the campus with the latest wireless technology in all areas has been approved and funded.  The current campus wireless network will be upgraded and expanded throughout the campus buildings and exterior areas with a reliable 802.11n wireless solution that has sufficient capacity and functionality to meet the needs of campus students, faculty, and staff.  The current wireless environment consists of Xirrus wireless (45% of campus), Cisco wireless (30% of campus), and no wireless (25% of campus).  The goal is to have a 100% Xirrus 802.11n solution. 

Project goals include:

  • Wireless coverage - everywhere including outside gathering areas within the campus borders; ResNet wireless with be provided as a separate service utilizing a ResNet wireless environment
  • Project includes main campus as well as College remote campus locations
  • Solution should support common mobile devices such as laptops, iPads, and smart phones
  • Installing wireless in areas that currently do not have wireless functionality
  • Converting existing Cisco wireless to the new campus standard of Xirrus wireless
  • Sufficient reasonable coverage to provide predictable access to cover reasonably expected peak usage.
  • Provide a coping mechanism for special circumstances (i.e. events atypical to general expected use) that demands usage beyond intended capacity.
  • A high level of wireless security and encryption will be enforced. During the rollout of the new campus wireless technology, the previous wireless security environment (SSID:CWWPA) will be sunset.
  • Efforts will be made to make the new technology compatible with older network wireless cards in user’s devices
  • Guest wireless access will be provisioned differently and separated from access of authenticated College users.
  • Due to the exponential growth of mobile devices on campus (BYOD – bring your own device), wireless networks will be designed for an expected capacity of three to five devices per user assuming the usage of the covered space does not change.

User Benefits

The wireless project will provide benefits to the users through:

  • reliable access anywhere on campus
  • sufficient bandwidth which will provide acceptable speed and connectivity
  • movability from one area to another without having to re-log into the wireless network except for student movement from residence halls to the campus wireless network
  • network security to protect transmissions
  • ability to simultaneously connect multiple wireless devices

Progress and Tentative Timeline

Campus SectionEstimated CompletionProgress
Areas with existing Xirrus equipment December 2013 Completed
TD Arena and adjoining buildings, Patriot’s Point Athletic Facilities February 2013 Completed
SOTA and NSOE academic buildings; May 2013 Completed
Randolph and surrounding buildings September 2013 Completed
Stern Center and surrounding buildings January 2014 Completed
Education Center and surrounding buildings March 2014 Completed
Psychology buildings August 2014

Completed

Foundation buildings August 2014 Completed
Remaining areas August 2014 Completed

View a more detailed Wireless Rollout Schedule at it.cofc.edu/documents/wireless-rollout-plan.pdf

Criteria/Approach

  • Project will be divided into phases that consist of sections (“blocks”) of campus
  • The method used to derive sequence of installation is based on:
    • geographical location
    • proximity to capital projects receiving Xirrus wireless installations
    • use of area (academic areas have preference over administrative areas)
    • largest use
    • best ROI
    • initiatives already in progress
    • replacement of Cisco wireless due to Cisco cores end-of-life November 2012
    • ease of project/quick upgrade or installation

Constraints

  • Future changes or advancement in Wireless Technology
  • Unexpected wiring challenges such as lack of conduit and path in buildings
  • Unexpected growth needs as a result of space usage develop during the project
  • Other projects utilizing the same resources become classified as higher projects
  • Funding needs exceed estimates
  • Newer BYOD devices require changes in equipment or capacity
  • Impact and changes of nearby wireless networks
  • Design of the campus wireless network needs to take into account ResNet wireless in order to prevent interference between the two networks.
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