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Campus upgrading wireless networks

Wireless update

The Division of Information Technology on the University of North Georgia's Dahlonega campus recently completed one of the final phases of a multi-part project geared toward providing faster, more reliable wireless connectivity across campus.

"We began this project in the summer of 2011, when we had only 145 wireless access points on campus, only two dorms had wireless access, and all campus wireless access was wireless-G, an outdated connection standard," said Mike Geraghty, infrastructure services manager. "Our goal has been to upgrade and expand high-speed wireless to all buildings, and eventually to outdoor locations such as the Gen. Bill "Lipp" Livsey Drill Field."

The four-phase plan has focused on the core objectives of increasing wireless coverage and upgrading the connection to wireless-N, a more advanced connection than wireless-G that also provides greater speed and range, and is capable of using two frequencies instead of one.

"We just completed phase three, and we now have 365 access points and our bandwidth has doubled," Geraghty said. "Phase four, which we hope to have completed by the end of the year, will include employing about 30 more access points to reach 100 percent coverage for all campus buildings. We'll also be upgrading 11 more buildings to wireless-N."

After the completion of phase four, the team will pursue adding wireless connectivity to outdoor locations.

"We'll need to look at which locations are in the greatest need for outdoor connectivity," Geraghty said. "We may do a student survey to find out where students want green-space access."

Another objective addressed during the project was the separation of academic and resident networks. Prior to the upgrade project, academic buildings and residential buildings shared the wireless network, which led to those buildings competing for bandwidth. The residential network, or ResNet, is now a North Georgia Network circuit, and no longer shares bandwidth with the academic building network.

The North Georgia Network is a fiber-optic network that has greatly increased the speed and reliability of the region's internet connectivity due to last year's opening of the Core Point of Presence (CPOP) network in Lumpkin County.

"The Wi-Fi speed has increased dramatically since the installation of the routers," said resident assistant Bryan Kelley. "Residents have been very pleased with their performance."   

Eventually the team plans to provide authenticated wireless access to all university personnel, with separate access for guests.

"Our team of engineers, especially Jonathan Rockett, Chris Adams, and Clark Justus, has done a phenomenal job in orchestrating the installation of these access points and helping us bring the Dahlonega campus a much better online experience," Geraghty said.

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