At what cost WiFi?

By | April 24, 2018

A recent “Inside Higher Ed” article examines how colleges, including U-M, are committing considerable resources to keep up with students’ expectation that wireless internet should be free, fast, and everywhere.

The U-M Ann Arbor campus embarked on an ambitious Wi-Fi upgrade five years ago that required meticulous planning. In some areas the wired network had to be extended, and new wireless access points needed new power supplies. Changes had to be made with minimum disruption to campus, and required special accommodations for working in heritage buildings.

The $24.5 million project is now nearing completion. “What we really wanted was wall-to-wall, basement-to-penthouse coverage,” said Andy Palms, executive director of information and technology services infrastructure. The university estimates that it won’t need to upgrade the network again for another five years, and next time it will require much less work and cost half as much.