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UB: Working Together for Better Wi-Fi

By Blake Cooper

Published March 12, 2015

What’s one thing everyone talks about, but no one does anything about? If you said “poor Wi-Fi reception," guess again. Something is being done.

Blake Cooper (UB Student, Class of 2016) is originally from Canandaigua, NY. He is studying Spanish, Linguistics and Comparative Literature, and beginning work on translating an Argentinian novel into English.

Starting the Conversation

On a chilly Monday evening in December, UBIT Network Engineer Adam Zangerle met with a group of students living in Greiner Hall. He asked them what they thought about Wi-Fi at UB. What he learned wasn’t much of a surprise: many students are frustrated with repeated problems connecting, and staying connected, to Wi-Fi on UB’s campuses.

“None [of the fourteen students present] said they could stay connected for more than an hour at a time,” Adam said. “Others had to leave their rooms to connect to the Internet wirelessly."

The UBIT team knows these problems are all too common. When we asked students about technology problems they’ve faced in the past year for our 2014 UBIT Student Experience Survey, “connecting devices to Wi-Fi” was the number one response. Add to this the fact that the UB community relies on Wi-Fi now more than ever--2014 marked the first time UB Wi-Fi handled 22,000 simultaneous sessions--and the message is loud and clear: the time for change is now.

Introducing Wi-Fi Boost

Prepare to change the way you think about Wi-Fi at UB: UBIT’s Wi-Fi Boost initiative plans to double the number of Wi-Fi access points on campus in addition to upgrading UB Wi-Fi to the latest and fastest Wi-Fi standard starting Summer 2015. But it’s about more than building a better network; it’s about an ongoing conversation with the UB community to better understand what you need, and then making it happen.

It’s Your Project

It won’t be easy. To meet the diverse needs of the entire UB community, UBIT is planning upgrades campus-wide: residential buildings as well as academic buildings, athletic venues, outdoor spaces and basements. The project will cover three campuses, 150 buildings and 11.5 million square feet!

“UB’s leadership feels Wi-Fi is a priority,” said J. Brice Bible, UB Vice President and Chief Information Officer. “We’ve made a substantial investment to strengthen our infrastructure, which enables construction of this new network.”

Due to this project’s unprecedented scope, UBIT is working closely with the UB campus community to build a plan for expansion. Classrooms and other spaces essential to student success are at the top of the list.

The meeting Adam Zangerle attended was just one event of several UBIT has already attended to seek out community opinions, including a student assembly and UB Graduate Student Association meeting during the Fall 2014 semester.

UB faculty and staff members were also included in the conversation, polled in the UB TechQual+ 2014 survey in Spring 2014. Not surprisingly, both faculty and staff indicated Wi-Fi coverage was inadequate, stating they needed consistent and reliable service. In addition, UB faculty and staff satisfaction with Wi-Fi ranked lower than peer institutions.

UBIT will be reaching out to UB students, faculty and staff more in the coming months. In the meantime, feel free to join the conversation on UBIT’s Twitter or Facebook and let us know what kind of improvements you’re looking for in Wi-Fi at UB.

UB Wi-Fi Boost is a multi-year project to make Wi-Fi at UB better and bring it to more places than ever before. Needless to say, you’ll be hearing a lot more about it in the coming months. And we hope to hear from you too! As always, UBIT is listening. And, when it comes to Wi-Fi, the signal’s loud and clear.