From Jan. 4 to Jan. 8 of this year, University Information Services completed an approximately $189,000 overhaul of the Georgetown University Lauinger Library Wi-Fi system and general connectivity infrastructure.
The project was completed with outside contractors, including the Virginia-based Knight Point Systems, and used Advanced AirMagnet software to assess the wireless system during its replacement.
In 2015, Lauinger’s wireless system was the oldest on campus. The university decided to upgrade Lau’s Wi-Fi system after noticing the inconveniences the older, slower system caused for students.
Last year, Joseph Lenart III (MSB ’17) and a group-mate went to the second floor of Lauinger Library to collaborate on a project. However, they were unable to use Google Docs effectively because of Wi-Fi connectivity issues and had to resort to email correspondence.
“I think, unfortunately, the report kind of suffered because it felt more like my group-mate’s information and my information, but not really connecting the places where we could have synergistic benefits in the report,” Lenart said.
Judd Nicholson, Interim Vice President and Chief Information Officer for UIS, said the new wireless upgrade aims to improve the library’s Wi-Fi for all students.
“This was our systematic way to come full-circle … in Lauinger Library to better suit all of our students,” Nicholson said.
The library’s 72 existing wireless access points or WAPs — the sources of Wi-Fi in a given area — were replaced and repositioned. About 12 more WAPs were also added. High traffic zones, such as the library’s second floor and the third floor circulation desk area, received additional wireless coverage.
Barry Arnold, Director of Network and Data Center Operations for UIS said that students should notice improved wireless service in the library in the coming weeks.
“I’d like to say [that students are] going to see improved coverage,” Arnold said. “There have been a lot of dead spots and a lot of areas with slow coverage around Lauinger that without a doubt should be noticeably better, and as far as speed … whether they’re uploading or downloading files, they should notice improvement.”
Arnold added that technicians are still working to make final adjustments to the system and that some time is required for the new wireless network to function at its maximum capacity. The system will improve as its frequency settles down and as its WAPs communicate with one another for optimal performance.
Lauinger library’s new WAPs operate at processing speeds of 115-130 megabits per second (Mbps) on all networks, while the old system operated at 30-50 Mbps.
According to techworld.com, data transfer speeds of 50 Mbps and above make collaboration on such platforms as Google Docs much easier and are also sufficient to perform large operations such as streaming movies in full HD.
The current Wi-Fi upgrade comes after a major 2013 initiative to optimize wireless systems throughout Georgetown’s campus for its approximate 12,000 to 14,000 daily Wi-Fi users.
Nicholson said that the upgrade of the library’s systems were part of this effort.
“Over the last two years we have been putting in additional Wi-Fi across campus so we could get to a state that we call ‘the ubiquitous,’ [meaning] wherever you went across campus, you would be able to get a Wi-Fi signal,” Nicholson said.
Nicholson added that the university’s emphasis on wireless systems reflects a current trend in computer use.
“Increasingly, more and more people are going wireless,” Nicholson said. “You are no longer tethered to a land connection, [and] everyone is using Wi-Fi for what they need.”
UIS continues to work to maintain and enhance Georgetown’s wireless network, managing the approximately 5,400 WAPs that keep it running. The UIS has already improved the wireless system in the past year by adding and replacing WAPs in the Intercultural Center Galleria, Red Square and Healy Lawn. The ICC currently holds a tentative position as the next candidate for a full upgrade following budgeting talks later this year.
Nicholson said that UIS appreciates student help in monitoring the quality of campus Wi-Fi systems.
“I would encourage, if students find a particular dead spot, or that the signal is not quite right, please just to let us know … so that we can be proactive and we can get out there and assess and put more signal and more access points, if needed, in a particular area,” Nicholson said.
Mary Marchese (COL ’18) said that she is happy with the UIS reform of the library’s wireless systems.
“I am really appreciative of their efforts,” Marchese said. “I haven’t really noticed a difference yet, but I am sure the more time I spend in [the library], the more I will figure it out.”
However, Lenart said that the campus Wi-Fi systems could still be improved.
“I’d like to see some improvements made either by UIS or the university to kind of improve that for students in the future to have much easier Internet access that’s faster and easier to use for studying and general things that we do on an everyday basis,” Lenart said.