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Wireless networking developed at the University of Minnesota (University) as a grassroots effort. The Office of Information Technology (OIT) provided a limited amount of access points across campus wherever they could, but if University departments wanted to provide wireless signals in additional locations, it was up to them to do it. The result was a mishmash of different wireless equipment and technologies that was very difficult for OIT to manage and support. In 2008-2009 OIT created a seamless wireless network by replacing all University wireless equipment with cutting-edge technology. This new wireless network provides service that is manageable, expandable, and scalable to accommodate campus-wide coverage, capacity, and growth in the future.
OIT manages the wireless network with a goal of providing high capacity utilization which is fast, flexible, and secure. Since creating a single network, OIT has observed wireless traffic has doubled at the University in one year. We expect continued exponential wireless network traffic growth.
University students, staff, and faculty should log in to the "UofM Secure" network with their Internet ID (X.500) and password to take full advantage of the wireless network.
Previously, many departments added coverage for wireless service in instructional spaces to allow network connections for students. Because of the continued growth and demand for wireless service, a wireless connection is not available for each student in some instructional spaces. OIT enhanced Office of Classroom Management (OCM) spaces in order to provide a wireless connection for each student based upon room capacity. We have teamed with OCM to identify which spaces scheduled through R-25 have wireless "coverage" and which have "capacity". We encourage faculty to verify with OCM through R-25 which type of wireless is present in spaces prior to scheduling courses which have the need for e-learning.
Wireless enhancement is managed by OIT and planned for the common good of the University. Since OIT installs wireless in all spaces and all buildings on campus, we must adopt a new approach for how we handle individual customer requests. Customer funded requests are being fulfilled at this time, but planned in a manner best suiting the University. The final Access Point (AP) placement is determined by OIT, and some customer orders may be completed in conjunction with other requests for the sake of efficiency. When possible OIT requests customers donate an unused network connection to use for the AP's installation. This provides cost savings in pathway, infrastructure ports and time.
OIT is not enhancing or reorienting Access Points (APs) at this time. A list of previous or new OIT wireless initiatives are available online.
OIT and Fairview have teamed to peer wireless networks. Collaboration on peering allows the University to install and maintain wireless devices in University owned buildings, and Fairview to do the same. Previously, when units moved into buildings owned by the other institution, it required wireless networks to be uninstalled in the current location and reinstalled in the new location. Now, wireless networks are installed one time. When the need arises, the appropriate wireless SSID is applied to or removed from existing wireless service in the populated space without physical changes on site. In addition to long term cost savings, peering helps both groups adhere to the University's wireless policy.
Note: Customers should expect service outages and changes in wireless signal while OIT moves, evaluates, and augments wireless Access Points (APs).