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IT Connect

Information technology tools and resources at the UW

Wi-Fi Technology Refresh


UW Information Technology is engaged in a multi-year effort to upgrade the University of Washington’s aging Wi-Fi network to the 802.11n standard. The project will replace approximately 4500 wireless access points (APs) across UW’s three main campuses. Additionally, where feasible, Wi-Fi coverage will be extended into areas with no or minimal service currently.

Why Upgrade?

Wi-Fi demand at UW has increased significantly in recent years, and has more than doubled since 2008. Key drivers include the rapid proliferation and use of laptop computers and Smartphone devices.

UW’s present Wi-Fi technology is now more than 5 years old and does not support current standards. The latest 802.11n standard, on the other hand, provides substantial signal speed, capacity, and efficiency improvements over the existing service.

Upgrade Funding

Funding sources for the Wi-Fi Technology Refresh include the UW-IT Technology Recharge Fee, as well as contributions from the Student Technology Fee

Upgrade Process and Schedule

Upgrade Process

In most buildings or areas with existing WiFi coverage, UW-IT is using a simple four step process:

  1. Site kick-off & pre-install site survey
  2. Replace existing APs (aka ‘Rip & Replace’)
  3. Post-Install coverage & signal survey
  4. Augment coverage with additional APs as needed

The overall upgrade project is expected to be completed in most sites within 24—36 months. The upgrade schedule for individual areas is somewhat fluid based on scheduling needs of building occupants, as well as physical site constraints.

As each site is scheduled, UW-IT will contact local building coordinators to notify and arrange contractor access as appropriate.

The wireless service map or list provides information on which sites have already been upgraded to the 802.11n standard.