Starting this summer, Information and Technology Services will upgrade campus Wi-Fi so it continues to meet the campus community’s growing demand for fast and secure connections.

This demand is accelerated by the critical need to support hybrid interactions for learning, teaching, research and work.

With support from the President’s Office, Provost’s Office and other key leaders, ITS secured capital funds to upgrade the Ann Arbor campus’ Wi-Fi experience in more than 225 locations, including academic, administrative and residence hall buildings, and outdoor areas. Additionally, UM-Dearborn is funding upgrades to indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi across its campus.

“I am grateful for the partnership of university leadership as we make this important investment in our network, which is critical for our ability to connect, collaborate and engage in innovative teaching, learning and research,” said Ravi Pendse, vice president for information technology and chief information officer. “This investment will ensure that U-M remains on the cutting edge of network technology and is able to serve the many facets of our community as they further the mission of the university.”

The project will upgrade residential buildings as much as possible before the academic year starts and will continue through the fall term with academic and administrative buildings following. This timeline provides the highest quality service to the largest number of people while also reducing security risks, minimizing university business disruptions, and reducing the total cost of installation.

“I am excited that U-M is the first university in the nation to upgrade campus buildings to this newly released Wi-Fi technology,” said Andy Palms, executive director for ITS infrastructure. “It is our strategy to anticipate campus needs and ensure that the U-M networks are an asset to our researchers, faculty, staff and students.”

The project will install new access points that support the Wi-Fi 6E standard. This new hardware uses additional channels to reduce Wi-Fi congestion in areas with a high density of devices, critical to meeting Wi-Fi demand in many of the buildings on campus. The Federal Communications Commission voted to approve the new channels for Wi-Fi use in April 2020.

After the upgrade, the Wi-Fi performance available will be up to five times the current speed. With the additional speed, most devices will no longer need to use a wired connection, allowing the university to reduce the number of wired ports and reduce its electronic waste and carbon footprint.

Creating a transformational network is one of the areas of focus for ITS, with the goal to build a resilient, fast and secure network, and systems that provide researchers and all members of the U-M community with the capacity they need.

In addition to the Wi-Fi upgrade project, ITS continues to focus on improvements to the core network though the Core Network Upgrade project. This project is in the second year of an upgrade on the Ann Arbor campus. This work will increase network speeds to campus buildings by up to 100 times, decrease network complexity, improve network resiliency, increase U-M’s fiber footprint, and provide the necessary bandwidth to support data-intensive science research.

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