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ITS lowers Wi-Fi costs, boosts campus coverage

June 20, 2011

Logo of Wi-Fi CertifiedWi-Fi (wireless network) has become an important way to communicate, collaborate and learn on college campuses.

Students, faculty and staff expect Wi-Fi access everywhere on campus. In fact, most students say Wi-Fi access is necessary for a positive college experience.

Currently, the campus has approximately 300 wireless access points. This summer, ITS will install over 150 more, bringing the total number to more than 450. The majority of this 50 percent increase in access points is being installed in Housing’s newly remodeled Grant C Tower and the College of Education. ITS is working with Housing and the colleges to reallocate existing technology dollars for more access points.

The FY10 cost of a Wi-Fi access point was $85 monthly. To accelerate Wi-Fi coverage, the cost of a Wi-Fi access point was reduced to $66 for FY11. Starting Friday, July 1, the price will be reduced again, to $50, making the total price reduction 41 percent. For all departments with existing Wi-Fi access points, the monthly charges will be reduced to $50 each, effective with the July 1 billing.

The new access points are 802.11bgn. The letters b, g and n refer to wireless standards. 802.11n is the current standard and has the highest data speed and widest area of coverage. 802.11bgn means the access point is compatible with older devices.

New technologies make NIU’s Wi-Fi easier to secure, easier to scale up as needed and faster. Silicon-level intelligence is used to create a self-healing and self-optimizing wireless network that mitigates wireless interference and ensures high performance. This enhanced architecture results in a robust, feature-rich wireless environment for students and faculty at NIU.

Vision 2020’s Facilities and Environment Working Group identified Wi-Fi as a required standard for information technology at NIU. ITS is working with the Office of the Provost and Housing to achieve 100 percent Wi-Fi coverage in all student and academic spaces. With reduced pricing in effect for enhanced Wi-Fi technology, all areas are encouraged to assess how they can improve the NIU student and faculty experience and work toward the university’s goal of 100 percent wireless coverage.

Contact your ITS Customer Partner for more information on providing wireless access in your area.