University of Windsor goes wide with wireless

When the University of Windsor decided to make its entire campus wireless, help was needed to actually get the network up and running.

The university partnered with Bell Canada last August to manage the project. There was an urgency to quickly set up the wireless network and a lack of in-house IT staff to quickly do it themselves.

Why the rush?

“The university had a strategic imperative to make the campus a learning centre geared toward the students and wireless fitted that theme,” said Roger Lauzon, University of Windsor’s executive director of information and technology services. Marketing also played a part, he added.

“You want to attract and retain students. They are coming in looking for wireless (connectivity) and asking ‘Do you have wireless access and how much access do you have?’” Lauzon said. He added that initially the university planned to roll out its wireless network over three years, but that new requirements demanded that it be done much sooner — within five months.

Nenab Glavan, project manager with Bell Canada’s professional services arm, described the University of Windsor project as “intense.” Bell was given two weeks to install 202 access points throughout the University of Windsor’s eight student residences — the first of two project phases. The implementation needed to happen prior to students returning to the school in the fall.

“Once students had moved in it would have been difficult to get access [in places where] technicians may have needed to go,” said Heather Mazzotta, local university account manager for Bell Canada. If a problem had occurred with an access point located within the residences, a 24-hour notice would have been required in order to enter a student dorm in order to fix things, she said.

The second phase involved mounting approximately 1,000 access points in 40 buildings around the campus and wiring the cabling to all of them. Lauzon admitted he underestimated the amount of testing required. “We had to make sure we were getting 100 per cent access everywhere,” he said.

During testing, Lauzon discovered certain locations had “blank spots” or areas where wireless access was not available. To correct the problem, he shifted some of the access points and installed additional devices.

Lauzon also replaced older equipment that the university was using for its previous wireless network.

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