Does size matter?

When a user has difficulty connecting to OSU’s wireless network, it is not uncommon to hear them say:

“But the wireless works just fine at my house!”

Let me share why this is just a silly comparison . . .


The typical Wi-Fi enabled American home has 1 access point.

OSU currently has more than 8,300 access points.

Most homes have a few laptops, phones, a tablet or two, a smart TV, and maybe even a Wi-Fi enabled toaster. So, lets say an average of 10 devices simultaneously using Wi-Fi.

OSU simultaneously services more than 41,000 devices.

Wait . . . I have more!

Looking at just our secure “osuwireless” network, we serviced over 200,000 unique devices in a single week!

And in the same week, we saw over 4 million authentications a day!

So, does size matter? Well, when it comes to designing and supporting Wi-Fi networks, “yes”.

Definitely “yes”.

You can understand that with a network of this size, there are inherent complexities. The biggest challenge engineers like myself have is to eliminate as much complexity and provide as simple and secure of a network as possible. We want the service to function and be as easy to use as the Wi-Fi network in your home. Because at the end of the day, users do not (and should not) care about the inner-workings of the network. The thing just better work!

2 thoughts on “Does size matter?

  1. We already support 802.11n on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz (UNII-I and UNII-3) bands. However, not all access points around campus are 802.11n-capable. OCIO is responsible for the student gathering areas and partners with the Office of Distance Education and eLearning (ODEE) to deploy Wi-Fi in the classrooms. All other areas (non-shared classrooms, staff spaces, departmental areas) are funded by the departments and colleges themselves. Upgrading to 802.11n would be something they would have to request and fund.

    I would be interested in knowing to which areas you are referring. Feel free to contact me offline.

    Regarding 802.11ac, we are assessing the available APs, etc., but the standard is not yet ratified. We waited roughly 6-12 months after 802.11n was ratified before we deployed. This was a good decision, as we ended up avoiding 50+ software bugs that would’ve adversely affected the wireless network. I can tell you though that new buildings on the horizon are currently being planned with 802.11ac in mind.

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