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3 in 4 Schools Approaching 100% WiFi Coverage on Campus

students using mobile devices on campus lawn

About three-quarters of higher education institutions in a recent survey currently offer wireless coverage for 81 percent to 100 percent of the entire campus. And 84 percent offer a strong wireless connection in on-campus student areas. That's according to the latest State of ResNet Report from the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International. For its eight annual survey, ACUHO-I polled 351 higher education administrators at 200 institutions about residential network trends, practices and policies to understand the challenges schools face providing high-performance networks in residence halls and campuswide.

Students today are looking for fast, secure wireless connectivity — a factor that can influence their choice of which college to attend, the report noted. "With student expectations for 'always on' WiFi for any device anywhere, campus networks have become one of the most challenging initiatives for universities today," commented Mary DeNiro, CEO of ACUHO-I, in a statement. "Our eighth annual ResNet study shows more schools rising to meet these expectations — providing students high-quality and reliable WiFi not only in the classroom but also for online learning, entertainment, and in their living spaces." In fact, the survey found that nearly all college and university business officers (98 percent) believe that superior WiFi connectivity and services are mission-critical for the institution.

In student areas on campus, the strongest wireless coverage is found in residential computer labs (cited by 86 percent of campuses that offer wireless coverage in most residential areas) and residential rooms, suites or apartments (also 86 percent). That's followed by administrative areas (such as front desks or residential staff offices; 85 percent), academic spaces in residences (such as classrooms and study areas; 83 percent) and dining facilities (81 percent). Wireless coverage in outdoor areas adjacent to residential spaces (courtyards, parks, breezeways, etc.) is on the rise, coming in at 25 percent, compared to 21 percent last year.

The report also found that student network support is key, with more than 95 percent of all respondents agreeing that a high-performing ResNet is critical for attracting and retaining on-campus residents. Yet the majority of institutions surveyed rely on "old-school" support methods, such as on-site/walk-in support (offered at 80 percent of schools) and phone and e-mail support (both offered at 92 percent of schools). And just 22 percent of schools offer 24/7 ResNet help desk services (up from 15 percent in 2015).

The report pointed out that outsourcing the IT help desk can help provide more flexible support hours. Among schools that outsource the ResNet (about 16 percent of all respondents), 70 percent provide 24/7 support, compared to 15 percent of schools with in-house networks.

The full report, including an infographic summarizing results, is available on the ACUHO-I site.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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