University Wi-Fi: Behind the Scenes

Have you ever wondered how Ohio State’s Wi-Fi can stay connected to your phone while you’re walking from one end of our 1,600 acre campus to the other? Access points (APs) across the university initiate all roaming decisions. With more than 20,000 APs, our Internet’s infrastructure is basically like its own city, and just like Columbus, these digital “roads” and “sidewalks” need consistent updates too.  

Over the summer, experts in our Office of Technology and Digital Innovation (OTDI) refreshed our Wi-Fi system, and our Authentication Servers got a new upgrade. And it was good timing. OTDI saw more than ten million authentications on campus on the first day of classes this year. These authentications occur when you’re traversing with your device between APs. There are typically around six million authentications per day, but on our first day of class this year, there were over 18 million.  

OTDI has also seen more general Wi-Fi usage per students, faculty and staff. In the past, over 180,000  unique devices on a single day at Ohio State was a peak number seen under unusual circumstances. This academic year, there have consistently been around 186,000 devices on average per day. Regular updates to network infrastructure behind the scenes enable our systems to handle this type of influx in usage without jeopardizing user experience.  

What’s driving these increased numbers? It’s likely a combination of a few different things – more devices, more people, and more consistent connections to our secure Wi-Fi networks. In May of this year, we began the transition over to our new preferred network, eduroam, and have seen almost 50,000 devices onboarded to the new network. The current phase of the eduroam project is to connect personal devices only, with a targeted retirement date of summer 2024 for osuwireless. 

Beyond your personal devices, Registered4OSU is your secure connection for media devices like your TV and gaming consoles. WiFi@OSU is for university visitors and guests, but can serve as a gateway for your other secure options. Get connected, and find which networks are best for your devices.