New network promises campus-wide, faster wireless coverage

An upgrade to Tech’s network infrastructure should address many of the complaints of slow connections and increase network speed drastically.The upgrades, funded with federal stimulus money, are tentatively scheduled to begin in May 2010. The wired connections are scheduled to be finished by May of the following year, while the wireless connections should take less time.

“We’re going to increase the raw speed to the buildings by a power of 10,” Jerry Boyd, assistant director of campus Information Technology Services said.

The upgrade will bring the typical network speed to any one of the buildings from 100 megabits per second to one gigabit per second on the wired connections and 54 megabits per second to 130 megabits per second for wireless.

The new network infrastructure will not only speed up Internet connections, but will allow for technologies such as voice over Internet protocol, video conferencing, and medical imaging.

Revamping the wired connections will involve changing out all the data switches in Clement Hall, as well as replacing the copper and fiber infrastructures amongst all the buildings. The switch will be made to accommodate even faster network speed in the future.

The wireless network, in addition to increasing in speed, will also increase in range, covering most of Tech’s campus inside and out. While there are currently a limited number of wireless hotspots, none of which are in the residence halls, the new wireless network is expected to be much more far-reaching.

There will also be a number of new systems put into place that will ensure that the upgraded network will live up to its speedy potential. New network access controls will be implemented, so that when a person connects to the network, their computer will be checked for the most recent anti-virus software and operating system patches.

There will also be a new bandwidth-shaping device in place, which will shape traffic according to ITS’ policies to make sure no one person or group can take up too much bandwidth.

The replacement of the old network technology is projected to cost about $6.16 million from the $10 million stimulus. Other projects funded by the stimulus include IT support for distance learning, ITS for learning villages, a regional economic development operations center, and a learning commons on the first floor of the Angelo and Jennette Volpe Library.