Wi-Fi is now the primary method by which students, staff, and faculty access the campus network and all other IT services. Our previous wireless network design and coverage did not adequately support the growing level of use, necessitating changes to the system. Over the past several years, Berkeley IT has worked to implement improved Wi-Fi service for campus but this work has been delayed at times when funding was not available to proceed. Despite these challenges, we have continued to make progress towards our goal of upgrading Wi-Fi infrastructure for all of campus. This work is part of a larger program of Network User Experience Improvements.
The goal of this project was to improve the density of our Wi-Fi network throughout campus, to improve performance and reliability, improve the campus user experience, increase the efficiency of our networking services, and better support teaching and research.
We achieved this by implementing a modern Wi-Fi network infrastructure that supports 802.11ac/ax 5.0GHz connectivity throughout campus, with a primary focus on educational and research spaces.
- Our previous wireless infrastructure manufactured by Cisco Systems had aged and reached the end of its supported life. This project replaced our aging infrastructure with a modern solution manufactured by HPE/Aruba.
- Extensive installation of data cabling has been completed to support the installation of approximately 8,000 new access points and the relocation of an additional 4,000.
- Cabling for relocated and abated old Wi-Fi access points was removed.
- This work was funded through June 2020 with a plan to have 45% of approximately 12,000 total WAPs (Wireless Access Points) installed by then. This estimate was based on the current projected design and modifications to the Wi-Fi system. Additional funding was approved in July 2022 to continue this critical work.
As of December 2022, Berkeley IT has completed the originally planned upgrades to Campus Wi-Fi infrastructure. We replaced 5,170 obsolete access points across campus with 10,400 modern access points, increasing density and capacity for Wi-Fi connectivity and enabling new services to be deployed to improve access options for our users. Initially, the project goal was to provide Campus with a 100% 5Ghz capable, Wi-Fi 5 (AC) network. In addition to meeting this goal, 46% of access points are now Wi-Fi 6 (AX) capable, as well.
This Wi-Fi Upgrade Project Map shows Wi-Fi upgrades that have been completed, outdoor access points, and highlights Wi-Fi areas where there is poor or obsolete coverage (opportunity for future upgrades, depending on funding).
To see the difference between the previous and current Wi-Fi design, view this before/after diagram showing the improvements gained in Wi-Fi coverage for the Valley Life Sciences Building (VLSB), one of the many upgrades we have completed.
My building has been listed as already upgraded, but my performance on Wi-Fi is still poor. What should I do?
Contact us for 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 bIT-Network Services 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 us for additional assistance.
My device doesn’t support 802.11ac/ax. What can I do?
The AC and AX standards are designed to be reverse compatible with 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 that have been proven on campus to provide excellent results. Contact us 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. bIT-Network Services 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. Contact us and we can advise you on options.