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Campus-wide Wi-Fi upgrades to be finished this summer

Information Technology has begun a series of wireless internet upgrades across campus. Over spring break, IT upgraded the Towers Complex wireless internet and began installing exterior Wi-Fi access points.

Cory Falldine, associate chief information officer of IT, said the upgrades in the Towers were made to address wireless connectivity issues reported by students living in the dorms. He said the upgrade will be campus-wide.

“There were rooms, especially corner rooms, in Towers that were getting lower signals than others,” said Melanie Willingham, manager of the IT Help Desk. “We needed to fix that.”

Willingham said IT has seen a decrease in reports of wireless internet connectivity issues in the Towers since the upgrade.

Ryan Kurtenbach, director of network and security solutions, said Emporia State will be also changing Internet service providers, moving from Cisco Systems to Aloha Broadband.

“It was just time for a change of internet service providers,” Kurtenbach said.

Kurtenbach said IT has not been working on upgrades on exterior Wi-Fi access points as much this week because of windy conditions, but they have already set up outdoor access points for students that begin studying outside as the weather gets warmer.

“We have already set up wi-fi access points along the west corridor between Morse Hall, Plumb Hall, Kremer Hall and the science buildings,” Kurtenbach said. “There’s also a wi-fi hot spot halfway between the library and the fountain.”

Upgrades are being made in Singular and Morse Hall, but IT has encountered problems improving wireless connectivity in the latter. Kurtenbach said the structure of Abigail Morse, in particular, has been problematic for Wi-Fi access.

“There’s only so much you can do with Abigail Morse, unfortunately,” Kurtenbach said. “The materials used in that building are not conducive to good wireless signals and putting an access point in every room in Abigail Morse would be a very high expense.”

When selecting spots to place Wi-Fi access points, IT also has to find just the right distance between them. Kurtenbach said that putting Wi-Fi access points too close together can permanently lower signal strength. Increasing outdoor wi-fi access has also proved to be a difficult problem.

“Trees can block Wi-Fi signals and animals can chew through wires,” Kurtenbach said. “That’s something we have to consider when installing exterior access points.”

IT plans to upgrade interior and exterior connectivity along Kellogg Circle, Roosevelt Hall, Beach Hall, King Hall, the HPER building and the recreation center, as well as extending Wi-Fi out to Wooster Lake and most of Wilson Park.

“I’d like to expand wi-fi all the way out to Trusler Complex,” Kurtenbach said. “We don’t have a way of doing that yet, but these upgrades on campus are definitely a huge improvement.”

The campus-wide Wi-Fi upgrade is slated to be finished this summer.

“Our absolute deadline to be done with all these upgrades is July 1,” Kurtenbach said. “But with our current progress, we’re looking at being done some time in early June.”

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