As part of our Curious Cornhuskers initiative, a reader asked The Daily Nebraskan, “Why does the campus Wi-Fi suck more than usual?”
On the first day of classes for the fall 2021 semester, University of Nebraska Information Technology Services received reports of devices not able to connect to campus Wi-Fi. ITS resolved these issues, but they were observed more frequently.
“Yes, we have been experiencing more issues with the network this fall than we have typically seen during the previous few years,” Andrew Buker, assistant vice president for infrastructure services for ITS, said in an email.
Between January and July of this year, ITS completed the largest network upgrade in the history of the University of Nebraska.
“This upgrade allowed us to realize savings of nearly $21 million,” Buker said.
This upgrade included more than 2,300 network switches and 10,000 wireless access points, Buker said. ITS replaced nearly every network device across University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska Omaha, University of Nebraska at Kearney and other locations, he said.
The upgrade unionized and modernized the NU’s network. The upgraded network will allow for better speed and enhanced security to protect campuses from cyber attacks, Buker said.
The upgrades took place during the pandemic, when far fewer people were on campus, using the network, Buker said. ITS was unable to tell how the updates would respond with the volume of users on the network in a traditional semester.
“With the start of classes in August, we saw a 500% increase in load compared to spring and summer,” Buker said. “We have been working diligently with our industry partners and peer institutions across the country to tune the network, enhance coverage and apply patches to correct underlying issues in the software and hardware.”
ITS is now in phase three of the project, which is scheduled to be completed on June 30, 2022, Buker said.
“This phase includes migrating all remaining services into the new security controls and improving wireless coverage and capacity in areas of need,” Buker said.
Buker said staff, faculty and students can report network issues to firstname.lastname@example.org so that ITS can quickly identify and address them.