Wi-Fi Network Upgrade Project

Wi-Fi is now the primary method by which students, staff, and faculty access the campus network and all other IT services. However, our present network design and coverage does not adequately support this level of use. We are excited to be working on several upgrades to our Wi-Fi network across campus.

The goal of the project is to improve the density of our Wi-Fi network throughout campus over the next several years to improve performance and reliability, improve the campus user experience, increase the efficiency of our networking services and better support teaching and research.

We will achieve this by implementing a modern Wi-Fi network infrastructure which supports 802.11ac 5.0GHz connectivity throughout campus, with a primary focus on educational and research spaces.

Project Scope

  • The initial phase of the project is funded through June 2019. Within that time frame the plan is to enhance as many major campus buildings as possible with the available resources. Current funding will allow for the full upgrade of eight larger campus buildings with further enhancements and modernization in several smaller locations.
  • Our existing wireless infrastructure provided by Cisco Systems is aging and reaching the end of its supported lifetime. This project will replace this aging infrastructure with a modern solution provided by HPE/Aruba.
  • Extensive installation of data cabling will be required to support the installation of approximately 8,000 new access points and relocation of an additional 4,000.
  • Where appropriate, the project will install updated wired network infrastructure in buildings, as necessary to support the new Wi-Fi access points.
  • Cabling for relocated and abated old access points will be removed.

Current Status

Take a look at the map below to view Wi-Fi upgrades that are currently in progress in buildings across campus and those that have already been completed:

Here is an example of the improvements gained in Wi-Fi coverage for the Valley Life Sciences Building (VLSB), one of the recent upgrades we have completed:

FAQs

When will you be improving Wi-Fi in my building? 

View the project map for current project status and work under way. Further Wi-Fi upgrades will be completed when funding is acquired. 

My building has been listed as already upgraded, but my performance on Wi-Fi is still poor. What should I do? 

Submit a ticket for a CSS IT consultant to help. In order to take advantage of the upgrades to the campus Wi-Fi network, please ensure that you have a modern device with good quality Wi-Fi, in other words one which supports 802.11ac “Dual Band.”  USB adapters which improve Wi-Fi capability are available for laptops and desktops and can be a low cost solution to improving an older device’s connectivity.

I have my own Wi-Fi router because a) yours doesn’t work, b) yours doesn’t do something I’d like it to do, or c) because I’m not sure how all this works. What should I do? 

All Wi-Fi devices share the same amount of radio frequency and thus bandwidth. Operating your own Wi-Fi router reduces network performance and stability for both yourself and all other users of the Wi-Fi network in your vicinity. If you have specific network requirements which the current campus Wi-Fi offerings do not support, please open a service request with IST-Telecommunications regarding your Wi-Fi needs at your location. If you are utilizing your own Wi-Fi router because of poor performance at your location, please contact CSS IT at (510) 664-9000, submit a ticket online, or email itcsshelp@berkeley.edu 

I am concerned about health issues having a Wi-Fi access point in my office/near my desk. 

There are no known health impacts from the radio transmissions utilized in Wi-Fi networking. All IST-Telecommunications Wi-Fi installations comply fully with campus EH&S safety requirements for non-ionizing radiation.

What will the new access points look like?  I’m concerned about the impact to the aesthetics of my space.

IST-Telecommunications will work with you to minimize the impacts to your space or provide further recommendations about blending the access points with the existing surroundings.

My device doesn’t support 802.11ac. What can I do? 

For mobile devices, it may be best to purchase a new phone. For desktops and laptops, there are many USB 802.11ac adapters which have been proven on campus to provide excellent results. Contact CSS IT at (510) 664-9000, submit a ticket online, or email itcsshelp@berkeley.edu for additional assistance.

Why should I use Wi-Fi instead of a wired connection? 

The majority of new computing devices on campus do not have any wired ethernet port built in. Wired network connections require the installation of cable infrastructure which can be costly for a department. IST-Telecommunications is focusing its resources on improving Wi-Fi on campus, because it is now the primary network access method. Even desktop devices can use Wi-Fi with the installation of a USB Wi-Fi adapter. CSS IT can advise you of options, call (510) 664-9000, submit a ticket online, or email itcsshelp@berkeley.edu.