Planning the Next Wireless Network

In late January of this year, Information Services administered the MISO Survey to faculty, staff, and students. Responses from all three groups indicated that performance of the wireless network is a high priority. Greg Miller, director of identity and access management, and his team oversee wireless and wired networks at Richmond. Miller said that Information Services has received approval for a major update to the campus wireless network in 2024.

How will the new wireless network improve performance?
The new wireless network will support the Wifi 6E standard, which is the latest standard for wireless networks. We currently support Wifi 5, and 6E will come with a higher data rate, lower latency, and will support a new frequency range, 6 GHz. The new campus network will support more clients with more bandwidth and more radio spectrum.

How often does the wireless network get replaced?
The expectation is that we replace the wireless networkd every 5 years. The current network was installed in 2017, and we extended its life to be good stewards of the University's resources. That said, some of our existing equipment can no longer be replaced and current hardware won't take the latest software updates. We need to refresh the hardware.

What is the timeline for the update of the wireless network? When should everyone  notice a difference?
We are in the planning stages now, but we will begin installation on May 9, 2024 (right after commencement). We are scheduled to complete the updates by August 1, 2024. All of the wireless access points on campus will be replaced. OUr wireless controllers are still very good in terms of lifespan. It is still early in the process, but the Wifi 6E upgrade should provide noticeably better wireless performance and capacity by fall 2024.