Campus network upgrade enters new phase

UA Little Rock made significant changes to its on-campus networks in 2018. The first phase was to have 1 Gbps internet access for every wireless device. The second phase of the upgrade will give wired connections the same improved speeds.

Completed improvements—Wireless

The wireless upgrade was accomplished with the installation of faster, more powerful switches in every building.

Since the Wireless Access Points (WAPs) gain access to the network via the switches, upgrading the switches also upgraded the wireless capability. Coupled with new WAPs, wireless capability increased two-fold. This allowed the removal of limits on the number of wireless devices that can connect per user account, and it has broadened the categories of devices that can connect.

The number of services that require internet access continues to grow, so IT Services is continuously analyzing access and improving connectivity for all services and websites. Before this project, Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV Stick, Xbox, and Playstation would have significant issues connecting or staying connected to the wireless network. Now, these services (and many others) are readily accessible and confirmed to be working as expected for students and faculty alike.

Not only has the access speed, availability, and functionality increased, but the coverage area was also greatly increased, where possible. Wireless coverage in the Jack Stephens Center and the Sports Complex have been or are being upgraded, as well.

Ongoing upgrades—Wired

The university is continuing to make changes to its network in 2019. IT Services is moving all wired connections to the new, faster switches. Switch speeds will be as much as 10 times what they were before, going from 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps.

A network closet at UA Little Rock

These wired moves are, in part, preparation for the move to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), in which new digital phones will connect over the network instead of the old telephone system. This is a major project involving over 50 buildings and several hundred network equipment closets. IT Services is about halfway through the wiring moves, and we are systematically re-wiring the network closets to upgrade and consolidate cable management.

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