Science Beat: A look inside Wi-Fi design at UConn

There are wireless access points which look like white squares with a blue light on them throughout campus. These have network cables which are connected to the IT closet in every building. (File/The Daily Campus)

Some students at the University of Connecticut have said they have reliability issues with the Wi-Fi on campus which may be due to logistical challenges.

“The Wi-Fi is very inadequate sometimes so I had to buy an ethernet cable,” Jason Poon, a third-semester psychology and chemistry double major, said.

Information Technology Services (ITS) uses a program that has the blueprints for every building on campus and determines the best place for the wireless access points using predictive modeling, Michael Williams from ITS’s telecommunication department said.

The program does not account for furniture and other factors that might weaken the signal, so the team has to do post-implementation survey meter readings where they check for a weak signal, Williams said.

The team consistently has to perform evaluations as issues are reported, Williams said. For example, there was once an instance when a whole dorm floor was not getting a connection. Williams said students had placed water bottle cases around the wireless access point which significantly weakened the signal.

Williams said students should report issues to ITS. He also recommended using ethernet cables, as Poon did, as they are not affected by Wi-Fi issues.

“Wireless, in its nature, is a shared medium,” Williams said.

There are wireless access points which look like white squares with a blue light on them throughout campus. These have network cables which are connected to the IT closet in every building. There are fiber optic backbones which connect the network throughout the campus running underground, Williams said. Williams said ITS is constantly replacing access points to follow the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers standards.

UConn supports a “BYOD” (bring your own device) policy, which means ITS has to make sure every device can connect to the internet, Williams said.

Students are able to connect to three networks: UConn-guest, UConn-secure and Eduroam. According to the Eduroam website, students can use their Wi-Fi authentication at any Eduroam hotspot in the world for a secure connection.

ITS also offers device help and troubleshooting in the Homer Babbidge Library.


Joshua Oculam is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joshua.oculam@uconn.edu.