Upgrades to campus wireless network, UPrint could go wireless in future

Not long ago, microwaving a bag of popcorn in your dorm room interfered with your Internet connection. Recently, the University of Miami has upgraded the wireless network on campus for the fourth time.

The university has installed the latest generation of networking, known as 802.11n, which averages a maximum of 600 megabits per second.

“One thing I would like students to do would be to give us feedback at [305-284-]6565, let us know when the Internet is not working for you,” said Timothy C. Ramsay, associate vice president of Telecommunications and Computer Operations. “We know who’s getting through, but what we don’t know is who is not.”

802.11 is a set of standards implementing wireless local area network computer communication in the 2.4, 3.6 and 5 GHz spectrum bands. It is run by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), an international non-profit professional organization for the advancement of technology related to electricity.

The university along with vendor Meru upgraded the wireless network in the summer of 2008. After trial and error with previous 802.11 standards, they’ve found that 802.11n has been the fastest and most efficient standard of them all.

Installing access points throughout campus is both an art and a science. Getting the points in just the right places and constantly monitoring utilization to make sure things are running as they should is a dynamic process.

“The Internet connection usually works pretty well, but once or twice a day there will be a time when the connection fades and my Internet browser won’t connect. It always seems like the Internet doesn’t work when I need it the most,” sophomore Maggie DeBarberie said.

Besides working on ways to improve the wireless network, Ramsay and the Information Technology department are working on getting printing stations throughout campus and making UPrint, UM’s printing system, wireless. This would enable students to send documents to UPrint on a wireless basis, whether on the shuttle or outside of Starbucks.

“Wireless is a living breathing organism,” Ramsay said.

Information is collected monthly on wireless data and is discussed on the second Tuesday of every month by IT.

A wireless map can be found on the University of Miami’s Information Technology’s Web site, which is www6.miami.edu/it/. Students with questions or who wish to leave feedback can call the Telecommunications Help Desk number, at 305-284-6565.