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New hardware in January to help Wifi

By Andrew Ta     9/3/14 2:56pm

Rice Information Technologies will perform a hardware refresh in January that will provide new security tools and improve wireless internet performance, according to Barry Ribbeck, Director of Systems, Architecture, Infrastructure, Cloud Strategies and Initiatives at Rice University.

“We’ve been on the network that we’ve had for nine years,” Ribbeck said. “It’s on end-of-life, so we [can’t] upgrade it, apply security patches, things of that nature. They’re going to increase the number of access points significantly. It’s at least 50 percent.”

According to Ribbeck, the hardware will rollout beginning in January, but will take a majority of the year to complete. The last time a project of this scale happened was in 2005.

“It’ll take a while,” Ribbeck said. “This is a big project. It’s huge. They’re replacing, in every building, every switch that everyone connects to. The wire itself is the only thing not being touched. All the things that plug into the wired network, those things will be replaced, which is a lot.”

The worsening wireless situation across campus has been due to an increase in frequency interference and number of devices, Director of Academic and Research Computing Michael Dewey said.

“Today, we have pretty good coverage on campus,” Dewey said. “Where we suffer is in regards to density. There’s going to be a significant increase in the number of wireless access points that we’ll have across campus. Classrooms and buildings that have high concentrations of people will work much better and will be much faster.”

According to Ribbeck, the technology improvements brought by the new hardware should help combat the rise in WiFi devices.

“Wireless is in a frequency band that’s unregulated,” Ribbeck said. “We have to compete with everything, so environment plays a big part. If a student brings in a personal device that’s wireless, it does its own thing and impacts other people.There are 7000 wireless devices on campus at any given time. This new network will help as much as it can by bringing the latest technology.”

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