Update on the campus WiFi upgrade


A complete overhaul of the campus wireless infrastructure by IT Services is delivering a world-class WiFi service to the University

Improving the digital learning, teaching, and research environment at the University is one of the key strategic aims of IT Services. To this end,      we are currently carrying out a programme of work to upgrade the entire wireless network infrastructure across campus which will deliver a world-class WiFi service to the University.

The campus wireless network supports around 50,000 users per week but the ever growing use of internet-connected devices and the rising demand for bandwidth has meant that our legacy hardware was beginning to show signs of strain and was no longer fit for purpose. This has typically led to authentication issues and inconsistent coverage across campus resulting in a poor experience for our WiFi users. 

World's leading wireless supplier

Having requested and received funding from the University to invest in a new wireless infrastructure, we devised a proof of concept (PoC) that involved installing new hardware in four key areas of the University and measuring the success. Aruba, who are part of Hewlett Packard, were chosen as the supplier for the PoC, primarily as they are the world’s leading wireless supplier and offered the best solution to not only vastly improve our WiFi network but to also future proof it as best as possible.

From April to September 2017, the new Aruba hardware was installed in the Learning Centre, Computer Science, the Main Library and the CTL. Surveys carried out after the installation showed user satisfaction was over 90% in these areas, a significant increase from before. There was also a noticeable reduction in WiFi related Service Desk calls. Following the success of the PoC, we received approval from the University to begin implementing the Aruba hardware across the entire Birmingham campus.

High-speed wireless network

Since October 2017, we have been working to upgrade the wireless infrastructure across the University with the new super high-speed network. The programme of work is one of the biggest ever carried out by IT Services and is scheduled to run until early 2019. It consists of upgrading the wireless network in 72 buildings across campus and installing 2,100 new, state of the art, access points (AP) which will give us much greater coverage. To meet the demands of the work we have increased our network team resources and to date around 45% of the buildings across campus have been completed.

Over the summer months we are intensifying the work on campus and will be upgrading the network in parallel buildings using two cabling contractors. Our primary focus is the student areas and despite experiencing some delays due to structural issues in some of the University’s ageing buildings, we remain on schedule to have completed 85% of the University’s learning spaces by the beginning of the autumn term. Work to upgrade the wireless network across the University’s remote sites will progress in spring 2019.

We appreciate that whilst the work is being carried out there may be some disruption and we thank you for your patience. We are working to deliver a world-class wireless network that will have a hugely positive impact on learning, teaching and research at the University and will enormously improve the WiFi experience of both students and staff for years to come.

Give us your feedback

If you have any feedback or any comments regarding the quality of the University’s wireless service then we would really like to hear from you. Please email your comments to uobwireless@contacts.bham.ac.uk 

WIFI upgrade