Networking, Wireless, Design Practices

For IT Pros This page contains information for IT professionals about wireless network design practices.

Wireless network plans

The propagation of wireless coverage throughout the Urbana-Champaign campus is a long-term project that must be undertaken with cooperation between departments and Technology Services in order to ensure thorough and secure coverage in the areas that will need it.

In order to have a wireless network function properly we must minimize interference, which is done by limiting the amount of same frequency overlap in the air space. The signals propagate three dimensionally and penetrate walls and floors, so formulating a coverage pattern is similar to solving a 3-D puzzle. Consequently, any contiguous spaces having wireless coverage must be treated as one large area during the planning.

The campus network upgrade plans call for public spaces such as lecture halls, student lounges, dining areas, and other gathering spaces to be covered by wireless equipment. Since many of these areas are too large for a single access point to provide adequate coverage, either partial or complete building designs are created for each of the public spaces in question.

Non-public spaces such as offices, dorm rooms, and laboratories are not funded by the campus upgrade project. However, if a department wishes to have wireless coverage in non-public spaces (either at the same time or in the future), it is less expensive and more efficient to design a single plan for all parts of the building that will either initially or eventually be covered.

A building design is determined by a combination of surveying and utilizing a software prediction program. Not all the access points (APs) must be installed initially, but the plan must be in place before we can decide which APs to install in order to cover a specific portion of a building. This way, if and when a department decides that they are ready for full-building coverage, a plan is already in place and we simply install additional equipment in the building.

If all departments occupying a building agree that they only want coverage in some specific areas, and that no other areas will need to be be covered in the future, then we will plan accordingly. But in the event that they decide they want us to expand the wireless coverage after that initial plan is completed, it is likely that the prior plan will have to be replaced entirely instead of being expanded. This means that the existing cable runs will be abandoned and the equipment relocated with new cable running to it. If the standards for specifying equipment have changed, then the old equipment may have to be discarded entirely and new equipment purchased for all the AP locations. Any time you request an unplanned change in your building’s wireless coverage, you are placed at the bottom of the waiting list for wireless designs. With this in mind, any plan to cover only specific areas of a building and its implications needs to be approved and understood by all the departments that are occupying the building.

Documentation of existing or proposed wireless networking equipment

There are several options available for design, implementation, and management of an on-campus wireless network, including a fully-managed network or a fully departmentally-managed network (Isolated Departmental Wireless).

However, as with any networking equipment, all wireless equipment must be approved and documented even if it is fully departmentally-managed.

Failure to comply with this policy may result in the loss of campus wired and non-wired network connections for your entire department. For more details see Policy on Appropriate Use of Computers and Network Systems at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


We need documentation of your existing or proposed wireless implementation in order to assess the security of your wireless network and verify that it meets the appropriate campus-wide security standards. For equipment that is not part of IllinoisNet Wireless, but is connected to the campus network, the department must show that they provided security and access control equivalent to IllinoisNet Wireless’ system.

The information we need to assess and document the security of your current or proposed wireless implementation is as follows:

  • Authentication method used
  • Data encryption method used
  • Access control method used
  • What data is logged for authentication and access control
  • Access point connectivity to the campus backbone (e.g., off a VLAN, plugs directly into a switch, etc.)

For all wireless equipment, whether it is connected to the IllinoisNet or not, we need to know what type of interference we can expect when we are conducting our survey and designing a coverage plan.

This is the information we need regarding the location and configuration for each existing or proposed access point:

  • Room number and general location in each room
  • Make and model
  • Channel
  • Power settings
  • Type of external antenna (if any)

Services provided by each group and contacts for specific questions

Network Operations

  • Your wireless network designer is your primary point of contact during the design and installation of your wireless network
  • Designer works with departments to understand the coverage desired
  • Designs, tests, oversees installation, and retests wireless network
  • Future requests for upgrades should be addressed to Networking not to the original designer
  • Maintains the system after it is installed and working, if any problems arise or upgrades are needed

Cabling Installation and Maintenance Services (CIMS)

  • Installs cables and wireless equipment

Facilities and Services

  • Installs wire rack, cable tray, conduit
  • Installs electrical outlets

Help Desk

Basic requirements to have wireless networking

  • The area must have a multiple VLAN capable switch that the access points can be connected to. (Tech Services controls multiple VLAN capable switches.)



Keywords:wireless, network, design, access points, managed, Isolated Departmental Wireless, departmentally-managed, IllinoisNet, installation, VLAN, switch   Doc ID:48468
Owner:wireless w.Group:University of Illinois Technology Services
Created:2015-03-05 18:58 CDTUpdated:2017-04-13 11:10 CDT
Sites:University of Illinois Technology Services
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