Since 2014, UIS has been working in partnership with the City Council to provide outdoor wireless internet access in the city centre, for both University and public use.
The jointly funded project has seen UIS taking the lead in designing, procuring and installing state-of-the-art access points (APs) to meet the heavy demands of Cambridge’s mobile device users, working with the Council to resolve the planning issues inherent in installing new equipment on historic buildings, and to ensure that the new network also serves the needs of the city’s residents and visitors.
The original pilot scheme saw UIS procure and install the infrastructure needed provide free WiFi to the area around Parkers Piece and some city centre streets in Summer 2014. The success of the pilot led to plans to extend coverage out towards Jesus Green and the boathouses, and over time, to other areas in town.
Shortly before Christmas last year, UIS’ Networks team began to work on plans for improving existing WiFi coverage around the Guildhall/Market area of town, and extending coverage along Petty Cury. This work is now complete – the extended network coverage is highlighted here:
This area of town does not have any Granta Backbone Network (GBN) fibres running below ground, so the only option is for us to run a wireless backhaul point-to-point link to connect our equipment to the network.
Using a combination of upgraded hardware and the installation of Aruba’s new state-of-the-art ruggedized outdoor 802.11ac APs, capable of delivering gigabit speeds to suitably fast client devices, we have been able to improve robustness of the service in the market area, and extend coverage to include the busy shopping street, Petty Cury.
The APs broadcast both UniOfCam and eduroam SSIDs, for University members to connect to the Cambridge University Data Network (CUDN), while simultaneously allowing the public to connect to BSky's free The Cloud WiFi service.
This latest phase builds on the work completed last Summer, installing 11 new access points which are now providing fast coverage to large areas of the popular recreational park.
Work on improving the University’s WiFi coverage continues, and later this year UIS is planning to bring several more outdoor areas online.
You can follow our progress on the Wireless Map, which shows the areas currently covered, and even provides daily usage statistics for each wireless AP: