University receiving widespread wireless update

Rick Pongonis

Six Kent State residence halls will receive faster and more stable internet connections this summer as part of a larger plan to eventually update Wi-Fi in all the campus residence halls.

Prentice, Verder, Wright, Koonce, Stopher and Johnson halls will receive updated wireless receivers this summer. The university is using the Cisco 3502 access point model for the $311,500 project.

More access points are being added, replaced and rearranged in the residence halls.

An access point is a small box that serves as a wireless receiver, enabling a user to connect wirelessly to a network or the internet. The devices are important for providing better wireless security and for extending the range of service.

“We are putting more of them in the rooms instead of the hallways, giving the students better access for their applications and their devices to it,” said Philip Thomas, network design architect for network services on campus.

Each year, students bring the latest technology to campus, requiring strong Wi-Fi to best handle them.

“We track what students are bringing on campus so we can reflect that in our wireless access points,” said Gary Perdue, director of network services. “We have to keep up-to-date with what you the students are bringing so we can create a quality experience for you.”

Among the many improvements being made to the wireless, one stands out.

“The best improvement we’ve done is expanded the numbers of options so their older laptops can connect, but a newer laptop can take advantage of updated features,” Thomas said. “We can now get more users on per access point now without their signal dropping down.”

The access points must be placed strategically in order for students to get the most efficient wireless connection.

“We make sure that where we’re putting them at has the least amount of interference,” Thomas said. “Microwaves and fluorescent lights are things that interfere and they can affect a student’s performance or connection to the network.”

Working on a project like this spans to multiple buildings. Being that the campus is busy during the school year, the project is reserved for the summer.

“It had to do with construction schedules on buildings and renovations that were being done,” Thomas said. “They also do a lot of summer programs, so we had to work around those schedules and not do those buildings during those different times.”

The department also needed to work around Destination Kent State, said Thomas. Additionally, the summer is the least volume time and many dorms are closed down.

Thomas said the reason for organizing the dorms into groups and choosing older dorms first was to control cost and the time that it takes to accomplish the task.

Dorms that have already been completed include Dunbar, Van Campen and Leebrick halls, among many others.

Vania Opoku, a sophomore biology major, currently lives in Leebrick Hall. She said the updated Wi-Fi is much better.

“I think it works faster and throughout the whole building you can get the same speed of Wi-Fi,” Opoku said. “I think before, it was slower, and in some parts of the building you couldn’t really access the Wi-Fi.”

Some students haven’t noticed any issues with the Wi-Fi.

Antoine Taylor, a sophomore exploratory major currently living in Beall Hall –which will be updated next year – said he did not have any problems with the wireless connection.

“The speed, surfing the web – everything – is great,” Taylor said.

This project is a continuation of work from the past two summers, 2015 and 2016. It is expected to be completed in 2020. Once finished, the cycle will start again in approximately five years, in order to stay up-to-date with the constant evolution of technology.

Rick Pongonis is the university tech reporter, contact him at [email protected]