VCU Technology Services and the Student Government Association are updating and replacing VCU’s aging wireless access point infrastructure to make internet access faster and stronger for both the Monroe Park and MCV campuses.
With a $320,000 budget, Technology Services and the SGA plan to update the current wireless access points throughout the Monroe Park and MCV campuses starting in early spring and stretching through the summer.
Keith Deane, director of Network Services at Technology Services, said access points are what students’ wireless devices connect to. The 2,200 access points across both campuses are becoming more and more overloaded, he said. The more than 30,000 students with multiple wireless devices is causing congestion on the Wi-Fi, and therefore slowing it.
Due to the amount of devices per person, the access points not only are being updated, but more are being added, Deane said.
“It’s a concentration on getting out devices that are older and getting new devices in,” Deane said. “Some of it is a refresh, some of it is new equipment covering and supplementing areas.”
Wi-Fi speed and strength is not expected to be affected during the project. There are multiple access points that cover an area, meaning if one access point is taken out, others in the surrounding area pick up the signals until the access point is replaced or another is added, Deane said.
“We replace them one at a time, so that there’s no impact. What happens when it’s all said and done is that there’s better coverage and faster coverage,” Deane said.
The current access points were installed approximately six or seven years ago, and the new and updated access points are expected to last just as long, Deane said.
“With the concern of the slow and unaccessible Wi-Fi reported to the Technology Services, students will soon be able to connect more strongly, and the new technology will be able to handle more traffic and devices,” said George Pottanat, SGA IT chairperson.
Replacing and updating the access points is worth the time and money, said Gavin McGrath, a freshman biology major.
“A major complaint you can hear anytime anywhere on campus is something to do with the internet,” McGrath said. “Whether it’s about how someone can’t connect or how slow it is, it’s always something. And the time frame doesn’t seem very long for how long the old and new ones last, but if you think about how quickly technology grows, it makes sense.”
Replacing the access points was mentioned to begin in Cabaniss on the MCV Campus, but where construction begins is still yet to be confirmed, Pottanat said.
The updates will mainly focus on both campus’ academic buildings and student areas, such as the libraries, Shafer, Harris Hall, Franklin Street Gym, the Student Commons and Sanger Hall.
“These are student areas we’re focusing on, and we try to give the best experience we can, wherever students are,” Deane said.