UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State’s Board of Trustees voted today (May 3) to approve a multi-phased upgrade to the University's wireless networking services. The $8.5 million project will be rolled out over three years and will enhance and expand Wi-Fi coverage across Penn State's campuses.
Set to be completed by 2016, this effort will make several additions and improvements to the University’s wireless system. Infrastructure will be serviced and replaced where needed. New equipment will be added, and a significant amount of equipment will be upgraded. Areas on campus with spotty coverage will be brought up to new standards, and wireless services will be provided where coverage does not yet exist.
The project, which is being funded from reserves for capital improvements, will address the ever-increasing need for Internet bandwidth due to the continued (and growing) influx of wireless electronics such as smartphones, laptops, tablets and other handheld devices on campus. At peak times, there are up to 24,000 mobile devices on the University’s wireless network--three times the amount of devices from just three years ago.
According to University officials, students, faculty and staff at Penn State are individually connecting with multiple devices at increasingly frequent rates, so the number of wireless connection needs per person is skyrocketing. Numerous colleges and universities are facing this challenge nationwide, as the explosion of handheld technologies drives expectations for large-scale bandwidth and wireless Internet access.
Upgrading and expanding wireless coverage across Penn State will ensure students, faculty and staff have the connectivity they need to continue teaching, learning and researching, explained Kevin Morooney, vice provost for Information Technology, by filling coverage gaps in areas with substandard or no wireless coverage, replacing incompatible or outdated equipment and managing exponential growth of wireless at the University into the future.
“Use of the wireless network has grown rapidly over the past few years, creating the expectation and demand for more universal and seamless wireless coverage on our campuses,” he added. “The upgrade and the enhancements to our existing wireless service will enable us to meet these expectations, enhancing the education and research experiences of all students, faculty and staff in our community.”