New Process for Upgrading Wireless Access Points

The Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) is continually working to improve OSU Wireless. We want to provide the best connection in as many places as we can, to better support our students, faculty, staff and guests. Regardless of at which Ohio State campus you are located, we want to keep you connected.

Part of the improvement process involves upgrading our existing access points. OCIO ensures they are running the latest software, they are configured correctly and that any patches are applied—and the goal is to accomplish these tasks while causing the least possible disruption to our customers.

How does all of that work?

OSU Wireless services are provided by thousands of Wi-Fi access points (APs) across Ohio State campuses. Historically, when OSU Wireless maintenance would occur, all of the APs in a building would go offline at the same time as they downloaded new software or configurations, and then had to be rebooted. The user experience resulted in a complete Wi-Fi outage in a building for several minutes, usually between midnight and 3 a.m. on Sunday mornings.

In Spring 2018, OCIO implemented new architecture for OSU Wireless that provides a much more transparent maintenance experience for users. Now, during maintenance windows, only a small fraction of APs in any given building is upgraded at the same time. This approach sustains Wi-Fi connectivity in the building throughout the maintenance window. When the AP to which your device is connected begins to reboot, your device will automatically seek and find a nearby AP to resume connectivity. The interruption to user experience is reduced to a matter of seconds!

As a result of keeping Wi-Fi available through the maintenance window, the overall process takes much longer to complete. Because of this, OCIO will schedule OSU Wireless service maintenance on Saturday or Sunday mornings in order to allow them to complete by the end of the day. Note that any high-profile campus events (e.g., commencement, sporting events, etc.) will be taken into account before scheduling maintenance.

You can always check when maintenance is scheduled by visiting the System Status page. When you see an upcoming wireless maintenance, keep in mind it will show that wireless will be affected for several hours, but rest assured that the maintenance occurs much faster than that for any given location. The listed maintenance window will include every location being updated on that day.