By Alfea Donato
While the rest of Ryerson might be lagging behind, 227 small, white boxes installed on ceilings all over Ted Rogers School of Business Management (TRSM) will make the building’s Wi-Fi faster and more reliable. TRSM has entered the last phase of wireless and network up- grades, which includes a complete overhaul of networking devices that will be finished by Oct. 7.
These white boxes are called access points — they allow devices to connect to the Internet. Six years ago, Ryerson’s Computing and Communications Services (CCS) only installed enough access points in TRSM for moderate laptop use capable of handling 30 simultane- ous connections.
TRSM is one of Ryerson’s most frequented areas and had 216 old- er-generation access points before the upgrades. TRSM was experi- encing Wi-Fi congestion prior to the installations.
“Suddenly every person not only had a laptop, they had a smart phone they wanted to connect,” said CCS director Brian Lesser.
As the number of connections shot up, so did the complaints.
“I would search [Ryerson] on Twitter and see ‘What the fuck, your Wi-Fi sucks,’” said Lesser.
TRSM information technology director Paul Dunphy said the big- gest challenge of the upgrades was installing the network switches, de- vices used to power access points.
The bulk of costs in TRSM went to replacing them. Since the old switches couldn’t provide enough power for the new access points, $594,244 was used to replace the older models. These older models will replace the even more archaic switches in the Victoria and Po- dium buildings. CCS was given $772,476 to upgrade TRSM.
The new access points cost Ryer- son $151,369 and can handle 100 simultaneous connections each. They’re also three times faster than the old ones, capable of download- ing content at 950 megabytes per minute. The latest models can also measure Wi-Fi signal strengths and switch users to the closest and strongest Wi-Fi connections.
The upgrades were meant to be finished before September but CCS faced delays when a technol- ogy company, (which couldn’t be named) tried to force the school to buy their devices. CCS has bought access points from another com- pany, Aruba Networks, for nine years. Lesser said the school’s law- yers had to write to the company, explaining that Ryerson was not compelled to buy access points and network switches from other vendors.
Demand for Wi-Fi access on campus has increased every year, with peak numbers growing by the thousands. Last year, the peak number of wireless devices connected at the same time was 7,000. This year the number rose to 9,200.
In an informal survey, TRSM students said they’ve seen no differences in their usual Wi-Fi service so far, with some report- ing great connections and others noting lag.
“At times it cuts out, in cer- tain areas on campus [too],” said second-year business technology management student Jason Ra.
Since last March, 378 access points have been added and 227 have been replaced across cam- pus. By the end of the year, an additional 271 access points from different Ryerson buildings will be swapped with newer models.