You might say that GW runs on WiFi. After all, more than 50,000 devices connect to the internet through 7,500 wireless access points – each day. That’s why GW IT decided to become one of the first institutions to begin testing and planning for the deployment of the new wireless standard called WiFi 6, considered the next generation in WiFi technology that allows more efficiency with faster wireless speeds, improved roaming experiences, more robust coverage and better performance in congested areas, like college campuses.
The first phase of these continuous improvement efforts is underway. Expected to be completed by late 2020, this phase includes assessments in 65 buildings and the kickoff of upgrading more than 4,000 access points to take place over the next few years. The buildings selected for this phase all have access points that are the oldest model currently supported at GW.
During the initial rollouts we will continue to gather feedback from students, faculty, and staff. This feedback, along with our infrastructure lifecycle plans, will inform our building prioritization efforts to meet current and future campus needs.
Once completed, our campus community will have a more robust wireless experience, including:
1. Why is GW upgrading the campus WiFi network?
Students come to campus with many Wi-Fi-enabled devices. Mobile phones, laptops, tablets, gaming systems, smart speakers, and more are part of a digital native’s everyday life.
While students may have data plans on their phones, they may not have the bandwidth to access the digital content that many classes require. If students and faculty struggle with fundamental access to the tools needed for learning and teaching, the student experience could be adversely impacted and diminished.
“You can’t have a quality student experience without considering the quality of a student’s digital experience,” said GW CIO Loretta Early. “That requires a comprehensive approach to assessing and upgrading Wi-Fi coverage and users’ bandwidth to provide equitable and reliable access that better meets student expectations. Wi-Fi coverage on campus is essential, and it needs to be fast, reliable, and everywhere.”
A new wireless standard called Wi-Fi 6 was recently released in response to the growing number of devices in the world. Called the next-generation standard in Wi-Fi technology, Wi-Fi 6 allows compatible devices to transmit signals more efficiently with faster wireless speeds, improved roaming experiences, more robust coverage and better performance in congested areas, like college campuses.
Several newly-made wireless devices can support Wi-Fi 6, including some routers from brands like Cisco, Netgear, Asus and TP-Link, the Samsung Galaxy S10 smartphone, and the new iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max. The next generation of laptops, streaming devices, and Wi-Fi smart home devices are expected to follow suit.
2. What buildings are covered by this project? How was this determined?
Wireless assessments are being performed in academic and dorm buildings prior to the roll-out of Wi-Fi 6 on campus to ensure any coverage gaps or existing issues can be addressed as part of the project. Gelman Library, Duques Hall, Funger Hall, Ross Hall, and Marvin center are the first GW building to undergo assessments. Over the course of the project, 65 buildings will be assessed, and eventually, receive upgrades.
The full list of buildings is found on:
The buildings selected all have access points that are the oldest model currently supported at GW. By assessing and replacing these first, GW IT will be able to take full advantage of feature sets for end-users that we would not be able to if we did the replacements in any other order.
3. What does it mean when there is a “Wifi assessment” being conducted in a building?
A WiFi assessment or “site survey” is the process of collecting measurements on wireless coverage, data rates, network capacity, roaming capability and Quality of Service. An engineer will walk through the building with a measuring device, a Wireless Access Point (WAP) on a stick and a cart. The engineer will use the Ekahau sidekick device to measure and analyze the WiFi signal and determine the optimal locations for placing the new Wireless Access Points. The process has no impact on wireless service.
4. How will this upgrade improve the campus wireless experience?
Once completed, benefits will include:
5. When will this upgrade improve the campus wireless experience?
Once Wireless Access Points (WAPs) are replaced in a building the students, staff, and faculty will have improved service. As this implementation is being rolled out, several upgrades are taking place on the backend network infrastructure and systems. The full benefits will be realized by October 2020.
Note: Seamless roaming with cellular networks is dependent on the user devices (WiFi-6 enabled) and the availability of 5G cellular network.
6. What should people expect when the transition comes to their building?
Prior to Wireless Access Points (WAPs) replacement, the GW IT Communications team will notify the impacted residents or building users through email notifications, digital signage, posters/flyers, social media, website updates and more.
WAPs upgrade work will happen during business hours, from 7:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. The project team does not expect to perform any building cuts on Sundays or holidays.
Service disruption during WAPs hardware replacement work is expected to be minimal and localized.
7. What if I am unable to connect to GWireless after the transition?
The older drivers for some popular Intel wireless network cards will not detect the new wireless access points.
If your computer is unable to see GWireless networks, please click here and follow the instructions to see if your computer requires a driver update.
If this does not fix the issue, please contact GW IT at 202-994-GWIT (4948) or [email protected]
If any member of the GW community would like to join the campus teams gathering input and feedback, feel free to contact [email protected]
801 22nd Street, NW B101
Washington, DC 20052