Residence halls get faster network sooner than expected 

OIT Crews finish residence halls before Fall move-in, project 4 months ahead of schedule

Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Sean O'Malley  

This is part 1 of a 3 part series covering summer progress on OIT’s NextGen projects.

While traffic might be slow in the roundabout as 4000+ students make their way toward their residence hall rooms on opening weekend, it will be anything but slow on the residence hall wired network.

Obsolete residence hall switches on their way to the surplus auction.Thanks to intelligent scheduling and fast work by the university’s NextGen network upgrade crews,  all 42 residence halls now are equipped with 100 Mbps wired Ethernet and 10 Gbps fiber optic links between buildings – four months ahead of schedule. 

“From the start, OIT has focused on efficiency,” said Chief Information Officer Brice Bible.  “The NextGen network upgrade is a perfect example of how students, faculty and staff benefit directly from that focus.”

According to OIT interim director of infrastructure Rick Manderick, completing the residence halls has not slowed work on the faculty/staff side.  “Coming into summer, we were slightly ahead of schedule with academic and administrative buildings, so we saw this as a chance to get a lot of work done while the students were gone.” 

The NextGen plan originally had some residence halls waiting until late winter to receive their speed increase, but several factors helped accelerate the project.  “Our crews have been great,” said Manderick.  “They hit the ground running and haven’t looked back.”  Manderick also credits academic and administrative staff across the university with helping accelerate the project.  “Faculty and staff have been very understanding and accommodating as we sweep through their buildings,” Manderick said.
OIT staff prepping new Juniper switches for installationAccording to Manderick, students will notice the biggest performance gains when connecting to services inside the university’s perimeter.  Downloading files from Blackboard, streaming video from Alden Library, and gaming both between rooms and between buildings all should be smoother and more reliable.  Performance gains will be less noticeable with Internet sites like YouTube, since the university still has the same Internet bandwidth as in previous years. 

Manderick stresses that students need to plug in to get the upgrade’s full benefit.  Wireless capacity remains unchanged, and wireless bandwidth is shared between everyone on the same access point.  Wireless coverage and capacity will be upgraded in 2013.  Until then, Manderick says, “If you don’t need to move around a lot, plugging in is the way to go.”

On campus students can borrow an Ethernet cable for free from the Technology Depot in Baker Center.  Students with roommates also can borrow an Ethernet switch that will allow everyone in the room to share the wired connection.  There is no charge as long as the equipment is returned by the end of spring quarter. 

Related Links

TransITions - OIT's weekly guide to NextGen changes