Pitt gets WiFi upgrade

By Mark Pesto / Senior Staff Writer

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For students who bought a new phone, tablet or laptop since last spring, Pitt’s Wi-Fi just got a lot faster.

Pitt’s Computing Services and Systems Development created a supplemental wireless network called Wireless-PittNet-Fast in August. Where Pitt’s standard wireless connects students at 2.4Ghz, the faster wireless connects students at 5Ghz.

Not all Internet-capable devices can connect to this new network, however. Students with devices older than 18 months must rely on the standard Wireless-PittNet connection, as the Wireless cards in their computers and tablets may not work with the update. Wireless-PittNet-Fast is available everywhere students can already connect to Wireless-PittNet, the University’s standard wireless network.

Jinx Walton, Pitt’s Chief Information Officer, said in an email that the new networks came in response to feedback from a Student Technology Focus Group.

“[The focus group] provides regular and very useful feedback on Pittsburgh campus locations where wireless connections are not optimal,” Walton said. “CSSD also uses the feedback received through My Pitt to help us target and address wireless network usage needs.”

In a separate project this summer, Pitt upgraded its existing Internet network with the Pennsylvania Research and Education Network, also known as PennREN to 10 gigabytes per second. The statewide network, created by the Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research, allows researchers across Pennsylvania to collaborate by sharing research data with one another.

According to Walton, the chair of the KINBER board of directors since July 2014, the upgrade will also give a faster, more reliable Internet connection to Pitt researchers working with colleagues elsewhere.

KINBER is a coalition of universities, media organizations and healthcare institutions founded in February 2010 through a $99.6 million federal grant.

The broadband network currently includes 1,800 miles of fiber and network equipment, with network access points in 51 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. KINBER completed PennREN in March 2013.

According to KINBER’s website, while PennREN’s primary purpose is to provide Internet service to parts of Pennsylvania with little or no Internet access, the high-speed connection will also help scientists and academics whose work is data-intensive. PennREN will speed up video streaming and e-learning systems, Pitt said in a release. Walton declined to disclose how much Pitt paid to connect to PennREN.

Due to the upgrade, Pitt’s tethered Internet network will now provide speeds up to 10 gigabits per second for all users at all five of its campuses.

Editor’s Note: Correction: In a story published Aug. 31, titled “Pitt gets Wifi upgrade,” The Pitt News reported that Pitt’s Computing Services and Systems Development updated Pitt’s wireless Internet in response to complaints from the Student Technology Focus Group.

This is not true. While students on social media, such as reddit.com, have complained about slow Internet speeds, Pitt was not directly responding to potential complaints from students in the focus group.

The Pitt News also reported that Pitt connected to the Pennsylvania Research and Education Network, also known as PennREN, this summer.

Pitt already had a connection to PennREN. This summer’s project was only an upgrade of that connectivity to 10 gigabits per second.

The Pitt News regrets these errors.

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