Upgrading the WiFi in a large space is a big project. Upgrading the WiFi on a university’s campus is a huge project. With numerous academic and residential buildings, stadiums, and even outdoor areas, it is imperative to plan the project accordingly so as to not disrupt business, learning, and living conditions. A complete WiFi upgrade is not a simple task. It takes planning and patience. There are three main phases of a campus WiFi upgrade: design, installation, and testing.
Design is the most crucial phase in a WiFi project’s life cycle. Not only is the entire project’s deployment being designed and planned out, but massive amounts of information need to be gathered in order to even begin the design. The most important thing for the customer to do in this phase is to inventory everything. Start by answering the following questions:
- How many buildings are being upgraded?
- How big is each building?
- What is each building used for (academics, housing, events)?
- Do these buildings have existing WiFi?
- Should there be full coverage?
- Should only certain areas have coverage?
- Are there buildings that need to be upgraded first?
After completing the inventory and the initial design, site surveys are conducted to further enhance the design development for each building. These surveys are used to determine optimal access point (AP) placement based on expected usage.
The installation phase for a WiFi upgrade includes construction, the installation of hardware, and a cutover process. Construction usually includes installing the conduit and cabling to connect the network hardware to telecom closets in each building.
The next step in the installation phase is the installation of all the network equipment, including APs, switches, cables, and various other pieces of network hardware. All of the hardware is installed using the design plans from the site survey to provide the best WiFi coverage throughout the building.
The cutover process is specific to a project with an upgrade. It is the last step in the install phase as it is the transition from the existing network to the newly redesigned network. During the cutover, there will be brief interruptions in connectivity due to the disconnection of the previous network.
Testing is done after the installation to confirm that the wireless network meets all the coverage requirements determined at the beginning of the project. In order to validate the installation, equipment is configured to a test setting and used to measure the current wireless coverage.
A WiFi upgrade at any university will always differ from a traditional upgrade because of the high density buildings and the residency factor at most schools. Campus WiFi projects take advantage of summers and school breaks to complete large chunks of work in order to avoid disrupting regular campus activities. Projects this big require constant communication and cooperation from the school officials to the building occupants.