UMN to drop clunky Wi-Fi network, UofM Secure, for faster option

The University of Minnesota network revamp is scheduled to be completed in January 2018.

Computer science sophomores Calvin Greve, left, and James Han, right, play Dota 2 on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016 at Bruininks Hall on East Bank during the uDota club's weekly meeting.

Chelsea Gortmaker

Computer science sophomores Calvin Greve, left, and James Han, right, play Dota 2 on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016 at Bruininks Hall on East Bank during the uDota club’s weekly meeting.

Samir Ferdowsi

The University of Minnesota will soon drop its notoriously slow Wi-Fi network — UofM Secure.

Starting this month and continuing through the end of the year, the University’s Office of Information Technology will bolster Wi-Fi services across all five of the University’s campuses.

Called the Next Generation Network Project, changes consist of eliminating UofM Secure and opening up more server space to create faster internet speeds through a Wi-Fi network called ‘eduroam.’

“We identified that the students wanted a change, and really it was time to update the system,” said Louis Hammond, University IT service owner.

The University has been using eduroam in addition to UofM Secure since 2012. However, until this current project UofM Secure was the main Wi-Fi network available to students and staff, Hammond said.

Switching to eduroam full-time will help the school keep up with security and usability demands. It also won’t add any costs, Hammond said.

Currently, there are more than four different Wi-Fi networks a student can join on campus. Interference between the networks causes decreased internet speeds or some networks to drop, Hammond said.

By switching to an eduroam-focused internet service, students will be able to log on to networks across the country. With 530 colleges and universities using eduroam, Hammond said that it was time the University plugged into the trend.

“We want our network to be a modern and cutting edge system for all University of Minnesota campuses that will connect students here and wherever else they may go,” Hammond said. “Whether a student is here, at Boston College or Ireland, there are eduroam networks available to use — and soon we will be a part of this network.”

Schools like Harvard, Princeton and North Dakota State have already been using eduroam with an upgraded network for multiple years.

“The biggest benefit of having this Wi-Fi is being able to just plug in wherever a student is in the country, really,” William Brown Jr., a technical support specialist at Princeton University’s IT department said. “Really, the only thing that is slightly different are security practices.”

This trend to re-route service to eduroam has been growing among colleges since about 2014, Brown said. North Dakota State University was among the institutions that made the change that year.

“Eduroam is Wi-Fi for students — it keeps everything standard for students everywhere. Plus it’s secure,” said NDSU Information Technology Services student representative Kelvin Boatey

The University of Minnesota network revamp is scheduled to be completed in January 2018, Hammond said.

“We’re going be presented with a new interface and IT leaders from all U of M colleges are excited for the updates,” Hammond said.