Campus WiFi Becoming a Reality

Ousmane Mariko. Contributing Writer                                                                       

Pictures & Video by: Brooks Clarke


The second floor of the Campus Center saw activity Thursday, February 16 as new wireless equipment was being installed as part of a 2012 campus-wide equipment overhaul. The outdated Nortell wireless gear, particularly in the Manakee building and library, has been problematic and is beginning to fail, according to the Office of Information Technology’s Chief Information Officer Mike Russell. “[It] is over 10 years old,” said Russell, which predates his time at the OIT.
But that’s about to change.
The new WiFi network, expected to be near completion by the end of 2012, will blanket the whole campus, and better accommodate newer technology such as smartphones and tablets. The Germantown and Takoma Park campuses are also deploying updates to their wireless networks.
All of the logistics are taken care of: funding and the new Juniper and Aerohive equipment has been secured and, in some cases, installed. The new Science Center already has the new tech in place.
The daytime installation on Thursday is something of a rarity. The work typically takes place late at night and over school breaks.
Spring break and the summer break are when most of the actual installation is going to take place, said Russell. Even with that, the network roll-out is expected to be in “pretty good shape” by the fall semester. “We plan on getting a lot done over the summer,” said Russell.
But it’s still a race against time. The library, for example, is out of electrical capacity, said Russell. This will make installing new equipment rather difficult. Electricity would have to be routed from elsewhere to get everything working. “The real issue is ‘how long will [that installation] take?'” said Russell.
Although the campus-wide WiFi network is still in its infancy, Russell feels good about how the next few months will pan out. The OIT is working “hand-in-hand” with the campus facilities. “I think we’ve got a pretty good plan,” said Russell.