The University of Richmond has launched its 2017 Wireless Project to expand network connection across campus.

The project started in March 2017 and was a 6-month project to upgrade campus-wide WiFi in every building.

"We wanted faster speed for the students, faculty and staff — and we wanted to get the access points out of the hallways and into the rooms," Greg Miller, manager of network services, said.

An access point is a device, such as a wireless router, that allows other devices such as cellphones and laptops to connect to a network. 

WiFi on campus was previously supported by 1,287 access points. That number has increased to 2,665, more than doubling the access points.

"We're really hopeful that the students have a better experience," Miller said.

Sarah Clark, WC'18, lives in University Forest Apartments and agreed that the WiFi on campus needed to be upgraded.

"I'm glad the University is taking steps to meet consumer demands," she said.

The new Aruba303H access points are designed to address the rising demands of WiFi usage on college campuses. The routers provide both wired and the wireless access, giving students a choice to plug directly into the network or connect wirelessly.

If students want to "plug-in" directly to their routers, it may be difficult, as network cables are not available for purchase within the IT department or the student store.

A major focus on classrooms and residence halls for the project resulted in 72 buildings and 23 outside areas being upgraded. The speed has now tripled from a theoretical maximum of 450 megabits per second to 1.3 gigabits per second.

"There's a lot of variables with WiFi because it is not a guaranteed, dedicated connection like a wire," Miller said. "There can be interference because it's a shared medium."

The changes should be noticeable, especially for those living in the residence halls, as that was a targeted area of the project after several complaints of slow connection.

"After being here for a month I haven't had any problems with the WiFi," Cameron Flinn, WC'21, who lives in Marsh Hall, said. "It seems to work across campus."

Contact news writer Eloise DiMase-Nordling at eloise.dimasenordling@richmond.edu.

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