WiFi Upgrade Project FAQ

  • What is the scope of the WiFi Upgrade Project?

    The WiFi Upgrade Project will upgrade the wireless connectivity in academic, research, administrative, residence hall, and existing outdoor locations on the Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses so it continues to meet the campus community’s growing demand for fast and secure connections.

  • What is the process to upgrade WiFi in these buildings?

    The project will replace more than 16,000 wireless access points (APs) in over 225 Ann Arbor campus locations and all Dearborn campus locations. First, during a pre-site survey, a team will walk through the building to assess the current network performance. Second, the upgrade work will occur to replace the APs in the building. Most buildings can be completed in one day or less. Finally, the team will return to complete a post-site survey to confirm performance after the upgrade. 

    When teams are onsite to do the upgrade, a temporary WiFi outage lasting 10-30 minutes or less will occur in the area immediately surrounding where the work is being performed. As hardware is swapped out, upgraded wireless connectivity will return. Wired connections will not be interrupted. The two surveys will be minimally disruptive, and will not interrupt wireless access.  

    The project team will schedule an initial meeting with each building’s facility manager and unit IT leadership to discuss project details, building complexity, and an appropriate schedule. The building leadership will receive resources and guidance for communicating about the upgrade to building occupants. The installation work will be performed by a contractor (PIER Group) with close oversight from ITS.

  • Are the contractor staff required to follow U-M requirements for masks and vaccinations?

    Yes. The contractor staff are required to adhere to all U-M requirements in place during the pandemic, this includes masks and vaccinations. Additionally, they are required to complete the ResponsiBLUE Health Check when on campus.

  • How are buildings prioritized for upgrade?

    The prioritization approach will be updated when we have a better schedule of when the hardware can be delivered. Our goal will be to distribute the limited quantity of APs at the start of the project most efficiently. This means taking into consideration building complexity in AP mounting or placement as well as access requirements. 

    Our prioritization approach will seek to provide the highest quality service to the largest number of people while also reducing security risks, minimizing university business disruptions, and reducing the total cost of installation. 

  • How will I know when my building is scheduled to be upgraded?

    Once a building is scheduled for upgrade, the targeted completion timeframe will be published on the Building Status page. A project manager will contact leadership in your building before the building is scheduled to be upgraded. The project manager will work with leadership in each building/unit to schedule the upgrade at an appropriate time.

    Project communicators will provide a variety of electronic and printed materials to keep building occupants and visitors informed during the upgrade. 

  • Who is responsible for providing access for non-UM staff involved in the WiFi Upgrade Project?

    The installation work will be performed by a contractor (PIER Group) with close oversight from ITS. ITS project managers will work with building facilities managers to arrange for appropriate access.

    Additionally, the project team will ask for assistance from units when crews are onsite for the pre-site survey, upgrade, and post-site survey. The contractors will need an escort to provide access to every room in the building. The project team will focus on scheduling upgrade work in the buildings that are able to provide this support first. If a unit does not have the resources to assist with this, the upgrade for that building may be delayed until next year. 

  • How will the WiFi experience change after the upgrade?

    The upgraded network will deliver the performance required for all devices to access an HD video stream even in densely populated settings, such as classrooms and auditoriums. The increased performance will significantly reduce lag experienced when using real-time applications, including video conferencing and video games. Most devices will no longer need a wired connection after the upgrade. (Wired connections are recommended for research computing requiring large bandwidth.)