Understanding WiFi Performance Issues in Higher Education

Colleges and universities over the last 5 years have become an increasingly complex environment to deploy a reliable, robust, secure and easy to manage wireless network. Many schools today are riddled with wifi performance issues, and frustrated students. Understanding what causes these issues and how to fix them can be a complex task, even for seasoned campus IT departments.

More so than not the root of the issue starts with the college’s or university’s current wireless network design. Typically, schools will want to update their wireless network every 3-4 years max. Unfortunately, we’ve seen some campuses go as long as 7 years before they updated their wifi infrastructure.

Seeing as how quickly technology evolves, especially wireless, that’s a long time, and no wonder they’re having issues with their wifi performance.

Another area that contributes to the complexity are mobile devices. Not only are the number of devices an issues but the types of devices as well. It used to be primarily laptops, but now it’s smartphones, tablets, wearables, smart TVs, gaming consoles etc. Everything wants access to your network, from anywhere at any time.

Making matters worse is the fact that most of these devices especially smartphones come out with a new model every 12-18 months and a new chipset every 3 years or so. This means you have to almost start all over on providing the correct support these devices need.

Mobile devices have also become smaller, meaning they don’t have the power typically found in laptops. This means that a smartphone for example doesn’t have the power to see or communicate with your access points as well as a laptop would.

This is why WLAN designs have had to evolve as well, going form a coverage design to an RF design based on both coverage and now capacity.

Besides using management tools like wifi heat maps and conducting wifi performance tests, your students are a great barometer of how well your campus wifi network is performing.

If the conditions are right, frustrated students will start to talk on social media with one another, then they might take it to the school publications and so on, until eventually your wifi performance issues start to negatively impact your school’s enrollment numbers.

There’s no real formal process to this but it’s something that is feasible considering how wireless has become such a mission-critical resource in higher education today.

Recently our very own Philip Wegner, CEO at SecurEdge Networks was interviewed by USC Aiken’s school paper, the Pacer Times as part of an article to better understand what might be causing some of their wifi performance issues, as well as to get a grasp on how WLAN design inside higher education really works.

We encourage you to read the full article, “Technically tangled: Wi-Fi issues understood” from the Pacer Times, to get a unique glimpse into a real world campus wifi environment from the perspective of the end-user, the students.


At SecurEdge, we provide a Wi-Fi as a Service platform that makes networking more affordable and easier to implement.. If you have any questions or would like to discuss an upcoming project, please contact us here.

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Danny Mareco

Danny Mareco

Danny is the Marketing Manager at SecurEdge Networks. This basically means it’s his mission in life to make sure you have the secure mobility tools and resources that you actually want and can use. P.S. He also loves a good craft beer.

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