U-M campuses first in nation to offer new Wi-Fi technology

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Wi-Fi upgrades have been completed on the Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses, making the University of Michigan the first university in the nation to offer Wi-Fi 6E to students, faculty, staff and campus visitors.

“Network connectivity is critical for our community to learn, teach, work and perform research on our campuses,” said Ravi Pendse, vice president for information technology and chief information officer.

“The upgrade was necessary to meet the growing demand for using technology-based teaching and learning tools in the classroom, conducting innovative data-intensive research, and engaging in hybrid, in-person and virtual collaboration.”

The Information and Technology Services project team partnered with IT leadership from every school, college and unit, and facilities managers from every building to minimize the impact to academics and business during the upgrade.

The new Wi-Fi 6E network enables download speeds of 500-600 megabits per second even in high-density areas. This is up to three to five times faster than the prior network — enough bandwidth for attendees in the largest lecture halls and auditoriums to simultaneously stream high-definition video.

Over the past eight months, the project team upgraded the wireless network in more than 225 indoor and outdoor locations. More than 16,000 wireless access points were replaced with new hardware — from those in the largest auditoriums to individual student rooms in residence halls, and from outdoors on the Diag to areas at Michigan Stadium.

The access points are strategically placed to provide areas where someone may study or work with consistent, ubiquitous coverage. The equipment is secured to 35-foot ceilings over tiered classrooms, tucked in attics and behind walls to provide access in historic buildings, placed over Olympic-sized swimming pools, perched on rooftops, and hidden in light posts and outdoor signs.

“With about 60,000 devices concurrently connecting wirelessly, the demand for the network to deliver high bandwidth connections has only increased with the heightened need for hybrid in-person and remote interactions. Upgrading to the highest performing wireless technology is critical to meeting Wi-Fi demand,” said Andy Palms, executive director for ITS Infrastructure.

The new wireless technology is designed to reduce Wi-Fi congestion by using new channels that were approved for Wi-Fi use by the Federal Communications Commission in 2020.

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Comments

  1. David Sayfie
    on July 6, 2022 at 11:41 pm

    Nice. Now can we get workable wifi or cellular service at Football and Basketball games?

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