UL campus gets Wi-Fi boost ahead of students’ return

26 Aug 2021

From left: Marguerite McEnery, Martin Moran, Ray O’Connor, Brendan Dore, Sean Nolan, Ger Moroney, Marie Linnane. Image: Keith Wiseman

The high-speed Wi-Fi on the UL campus has been extended to more outdoor spaces to meet the demands of 20,000 staff and students returning in September.

The University of Limerick (UL) has upgraded its campus-wide Wi-Fi with Irish company Agile Networks ahead of the new semester.

Universities around Ireland are planning for a large-scale return to lectures and in-person teaching next month following the easing of pandemic restrictions.

The new high-speed connection at UL is part of plans for a “Covid-ready campus”, to meet the demands of more than 20,000 staff and students returning in September and to make the reconfiguration of teaching and public spaces for social distancing easier.

Covid-19 guidelines such as physical distancing and avoiding large crowds will mean that students will have to make use of outdoor spaces more often, and the latest update extends UL’s Wi-Fi connectivity to the entire campus.

Agile Networks said this extension includes for the first time the university’s Living Bridge, a 350-metre-long pedestrian bridge over the Shannon River that connects UL grounds. The student courtyard, the green space around the library building and two main car parks have also been connected to high-speed internet.

“Student demands for multimedia access including video, voice, chat and desktop sharing brings a different set of requirements and that’s the design standard we set for the project,” said Ger Moroney, IT project manager at UL.

“The team at Agile Networks completed the project with professionalism and competence, overcoming many technical challenges, particularly in some of our older buildings.”

Agile said it installed more than 2,000 access points throughout the campus based on wireless technology provided by Aruba Networks.

“Detailed site surveys were a critical part of the network design,” said Sean Nolan, business development manager at Agile Networks. “We carried them out pre- and post-installation to ensure that all areas of the campus had optimum coverage.”

He added that Aruba’s User Experience Insight (UXI) software will continuously monitor and test the Wi-Fi network using AI-powered technology to determine network health and performance.

“UXI sensors help the small network team at UL to diagnose, troubleshoot and even detect anomalies before issues arise and data is viewed in real time on a cloud-based dashboard,” he added.

Agile Networks has previously provided network solutions to other Irish third-level institutions including DCU, Maynooth University and University College Cork.

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic