CSUN’s wireless network upgrade

Information Technology (IT) is upgrading the CSUN wireless network to improve internet connection on campus.

The Wireless Enhancement Project began in June 2009 and consists of replacing wireless access points with newer equipment in most campus buildings and installing new access points to enhance wireless connectivity throughout the campus including outdoor wireless access points, said Hilary Baker, vice president for Information Technology/CIO.

“The project provides the campus community with increased Wi-Fi coverage and density,” Baker said in an e-mail correspondence.

The replacement of multi-vendor wireless equipment and the installment of outdoor wireless does not mean that logging in has changed, Baker said. Users are still able to access the CSUN wireless network using their campus-provided user ID and password.

The project benefits CSUN students and staff because of the extended wireless coverage, Baker said. The three phases of the Wireless Enhancement Project are: replace old access points with new equipment, install new and additional access points and install new outdoor wireless access points.

Baker said Phase I of the project occurred between June 2009 and was completed on Aug. 12, 2009, when summer sessions were in progress. No significant issues or technical problems occurred during this particular phase and it did not disrupt students in school sessions, Baker added.

“Scheduling of the project was done in consultation with departments to ensure that it would have minimal impact to classes,” Baker said. “Additionally, various modes of advanced communication (e-mail, Web, posted fliers) were used to communicate work being done in any given area.”

Adrian Troung, 19, a second-year, computer engineering major said he has seen an improvement in the wireless network but normally he uses the library computers instead.

“Indoor Wi-Fi is good for those that carry their laptops but I normally use the computers in the library,” Troung said. “My friends use the wireless internet from the Oviatt Library and they say you can get full bars there.”

Phase II of the Wireless Enhancement Project was completed Dec. 31, 2009 and involved adding wireless access points to enhance Wi-Fi coverage and density in select areas that include Bayramian Hall, Manzanita Hall, Sierra Hall, Jerome Richfield and Oviatt Library, Baker said.

Senior Cynthia Dueñas, 22, liberal studies major, said she also uses CSUN’s Wi-Fi.

“Personally I love the free Wi-Fi because I can access it on my iTouch while waiting for class to start I just check my e-mail or just kill time online,” Dueñas said.

Baker said there were no technical problems in phase II. Some areas such as Matador Hall, the Chicano House, Black House, Asian House, Child and Family Studies Lab School and Intercollegiate Athletics, which either had limited or no wireless coverage, now have wireless access for the first time.

The progress of phase III: Installing new outdoor wireless access points began in September 2009 and is estimated to be completed by the end of March 2010.

“A wireless access point is connected to a cable that runs through a conduit to an antenna,” Baker said of the way the outdoor wireless works. “The antenna, which is installed external to a building, provides the Wi-Fi coverage to the intended outdoor space.”

Many outdoor areas or wireless “hot spots” such as Arbor food court, Sierra food court, outdoor lawn, quad spaces, and the tennis courts will have newly installed wireless access points where students and staff can access the Wi-Fi, Baker said.

CSUN students had mix reviews on the outdoor wireless network connectivity.

“I normally won’t use the wireless outside because if you’re studying or doing homework you’re normally in the library or in any building with desks,” Troung said.

Dueñas said wireless hot spots sounded like a great idea for those who are having lunch or are on break.

“Usually when I’m outdoors, I’m usually heading to my car so I don’t think it would apply to me but I mean it could still be convenient in case of an emergency and I needed to check my emails as soon as possible,” Dueñas said.

According to Baker the campus wide enhancement wireless project cost approximately $1 million, of which the campus quality fee funded approximately $425,000.

“The CSUN campus quality fee covered the wireless project in non-state owned buildings (e.g. Bookstore, USU, etc.) and all outside spaces (e.g. Oviatt Library Quad, Sierra courtyard, and Arbor outdoor courtyard),” Baker said. “CSU system wide funding accounts for approximately 60 percent of the CSUN project cost and includes the wireless upgrade in state-owned buildings (e.g. Sierra Hall, Bayramian Hall, Monterey Hall etc.).”

Reacting to the cost of the Wi-Fi, Troung said, “I don’t know but that’s a lot of money but I guess it can be good for students that use the wireless for their homework and projects and especially the professors that use the wireless connection to teach in class. Everything is online now. I guess it’s worth it since at the end its free Wi-Fi for us.”