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/ax 5.0GHz connectivity throughout campus, with a primary focus on educational and research spaces.

Project Scope

  • Our existing wireless infrastructure manufactured by Cisco Systems has aged and is reaching the end of its supported life. This project will replace our aging infrastructure with a modern solution manufactured by HPE/Aruba.
  • Extensive installation of data cabling will be completed to support the installation of approximately 8,000 new access points and relocation of an additional 4,000.
  • Cabling for relocated and abated old Wi-Fi access points will be removed.
  • This work is funded through June 2020 with a plan to have 45% of approximately 12,000 total WAPs (Wireless Access Points) installed by then. This estimate is based on the current projected design and modifications to the Wi-Fi system.

Current Status

Since the start of the project last year through September 2019, we have installed close to 3,600 WAPs.  

The map below shows Wi-Fi upgrades that are currently in progress in buildings across campus, those that have already been completed, and those deferred to the future:

To see the difference between previous and current Wi-Fi design, view this diagram showing 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 underway. 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 ITCS 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 can I expect when my building is being upgraded?

  • The building manager will work with IST and departments within the building to develop a schedule. The building manager will communicate regarding expected work plans with building occupants.
  • The building floor plan showing Wireless Access Point (WAP) locations will be reviewed with the building manager. Any adjustments to this design must be approved by IST.
  • IST will install cabling and WAPs to new locations.
  • IST will remove old WAPs and cabling.
  • IST will conduct a punch list walkthrough with building manager and contractor to identify and resolve any issues.

If you have any performance problems with Wi-Fi after the project completes in your building, submit a ticket requesting a ITCS consultant to help.

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

The ac and ax standards are designed to be reverse compatible to all previous standards. If you wish to take advantage of the upgraded standards it may be best to purchase a new mobile device. For desktops and laptops, there are many USB 802.11ac and ax adapters which have been proven on campus to provide excellent results. Contact ITCS 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. ITCS can advise you of options, call (510) 664-9000, submit a ticket online, or email itcsshelp@berkeley.edu.