Taking WiFi 6 Outdoors

A map showing the areas on campus that will receive outdoor WiFi

We’ve blanketed the majority of campus’ outdoor spaces with WiFi 6 connectivity. This is something we’ve received lots of feedback about from our faculty and students when talking about a return to campus. With these upgrades, new areas have been opened up for students to study and work while staying safely distanced from others and for more instructors to have the option to teach outside. SJSU is the first university in higher education to deploy Cisco’s WiFi 6 access points. 

Based on early data from the start of the Fall 2021 semester, this effort is already paying off for campus. Comparing pre-pandemic data from the first day of Fall 2019 with the first day of Fall 2021, we see big jumps in utilization. The number of devices connected to SJSU’s WiFi network went from 17,893 to 24,033, a 34% increase. That’s part of why it was so important to install WiFi 6 access points, which excel at managing multiple simultaneous connections. 

The jump in traffic on our Outdoor WiFi network was even bigger — a 108% increase, from 1.2GB of data on August 21, 2019, to 2.5GB on August 19, 2021. For reference, one gigabyte is equivalent to 10 hours of streaming 4k video. In past years, this kind of traffic would have strained the older WiFi access points, leading to congestion, slowdowns, and drops. As we move toward a more hybrid future, this kind of internet bandwidth consumption will only continue to go up.

Thanks go to Tino Cruz, Trevor Florez, and Mark Tran, as well as Jay Kuncl from FD&O, who worked to get this ready for our campus.

The Outdoor WiFi initiative is an excellent example of how we’re implementing solutions to address today’s problems that also build for the future. Ensuring that our university has a reliable, fast, campus-wide network is a foundational step in our long-term strategy for achieving the vision of Transformation 2030. 

When we look at the list of campus technology initiatives we’re working to build a future-enabled campus — integrated cameras, entry sensors, IoT devices — almost everything requires an always-on connection. We have to provide our university with a wireless network that’s stable and reliable enough to support those systems in addition to the needs of our students and faculty.

Best regards,
Bob Lim

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