In the last ten years, WiFi has become a necessity in restaurants, businesses, and homes. Twenty years ago it would be uncommon to go up to a barista and ask for the password to their network, but now it happens every day. The era of telephone-based communication has fallen into the wake of the internet, and we as a society have been further and further integrating ourselves into an internet-dependent state. Just like we have learned to expect WiFi at our coffee shops, we now need it on our college campuses as well. Whether it’s school-related apps, email, or web browsing, there’s plenty of reasons why wifi on campus is not only practical, but is also advantageous to the university. This trend is well exemplified at Oregon State, with a student, staff, and faculty population of close to 40,000, there’s many ways in which WiFi is used both to increase the user experience, and enhances the quality of the education provided.
One reason supporting the necessity of WiFi at Oregon State is the fact that OSU is a prolific research university. Graduate and Doctoral students, along with professors and instructors are doing cutting edge research, often with colleagues off campus, across the state, or even across the world. Having a strong wifi network allows these professionals to collaborate and communicate no matter where they are on campus, and lets them focus on their expertise instead of trying to troubleshoot their network connection. A fast connection is especially necessary when large amounts of data are collected and need to be processed, and shared.
Another huge obviously large demand for WiFi comes from residents on campus. With nearly all of first-year students at Oregon State living on campus, there are a lot of users, and a lot of devices connected simultaneously. Dorms can be particularly high-traffic areas and can be easily overwhelmed, especially when several rooms have to share the same access point. Most students have at least a phone and computer connected, and many also have a gaming console, a tv, or another WiFi capable device all connected at once. To a first-year student, new subjects and classes can be stressful enough without the added stressor of an incompetent WiFi connection. Providing every campus resident with a stable, quick wireless connection means it’s easier to focus on homework, deadlines, and learning, rather than having to wait for a lecture slide or informational video to load.
A last, and perhaps most impactful demand for WiFi on campus is the simple answer: people walking on campus. When someone is walking, whether they be an instructor, a student, or a researcher they most likely have one thing in common: they’re short on time. Many people depend on their little breaks between classes (or meetings) to check deadlines, respond to emails, or just more generally, be productive. If your WiFi is constantly cutting out while you’re trying to preform one of these tasks, it slows you down, and also increases stress. A university is a demanding environment to be in, and having a consistent link to the internet makes it just a little bit easier.