CASE STUDIES TOPICS  Residential Networks (ResNet) Campus Engagement

Case Study

Increasing Retention, Enrollment and Graduation Through Wi-Fi
March 17, 2016
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The State University College at Buffalo’s existing infrastructure could not keep pace with the rising number of residents and devices. Understanding that providing a reliable way to access online resources was key to the school’s competitiveness, Buffalo State’s administrators partnered with Apogee to deliver a new and comprehensive student network. Learn how they found value in outsourcing and experienced a speedy installation, resulting in greater student satisfaction.

Problem

With more than a 130 percent increase in residence hall occupancies over two decades and almost 3,000 students flooding its networks with a slew of devices each year, it was clear that student needs had outpaced residential network capacity at the State University College at Buffalo (also known as Buffalo State College or SUNY Buffalo State).

In recent years, the number one student complaint was slow internet speeds and minimal wireless connectivity in the residential halls (ACUHO-I’s 2013 educational benchmark survey). Only two of 11 residential halls featured wireless connectivity in the common areas, and administrators could not support all of the ports available. The residence halls shared bandwidth with the administrative side of campus and bandwidth was portioned between both entities during business hours. In the evening, residents accessing the Internet from their rooms choked the ResNet, and those wanting technical support beyond business hours were disappointed because of the school’s 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM weekday support hours.

“Students live and die by their computers. Housing is major part of a student’s decision process in choosing a school, and good internet connectivity is now an expectation. The true value of the new network is that it will help us to stay competitive, even if there aren’t many competitors in the surrounding areas currently,” said Kris Kaufman, director of housing, SUNY Buffalo State.

Solution

The campus housing department, along with other administrators realized that a scalable network that truly meets student resident needs was key to the university’s strategic initiatives to bolster recruitment, retention and graduation.

After a thorough analysis of the options and due diligence with peers at other SUNY campuses, a cross-departmental team chose to outsource to Apogee. The analysis revealed that continuing to run the network in-house would mean adding more staff, as well as increasing bandwidth capacity, both of which would impact the budget significantly. Apogee also met two key criteria of being able to deploy a solution within weeks and provide better support 24/7 than the school could in-house. To speed things up even further and ensure that the network could be installed on time, the school worked with the state controller’s office to piggyback on an existing State of New York RFP.

Apogee’s tailored solution for SUNY Buffalo State includes:

  • Speedy installation and deployment in weeks, not months or even years
  • Frequent equipment refreshes built into the contract
  • Delayed capital expenditure for the school
  • New access points for comprehensive wall-to-wall wireless coverage
  • Tiered options to accommodate residents with more bandwidth needs
  • Flexible financing options
  • Frequent measurement
  • 24/7 troubleshooting and support

Results

In the Fall of 2014, Buffalo State unveiled its newly-minted, highly- advanced residential network (ResNet) with comprehensive Wi-Fi connectivity for all student rooms and common areas and around- the-clock support.

Through its partnership with Apogee, SUNY Buffalo State has experienced the following benefits:

  • The student network worked efficiently and speedily from the start of move-in week
  • Greater student satisfaction has freed administrators from having to address a barrage of complaints that they have become accustomed to receiving about internet connectivity
  • A smooth deployment of a new and comprehensive student network weeks in advance of move-in date
  • Bandwidth has increased dramatically to 30 mbps per student
  • Students are enjoying 100 percent wireless connectivity in their rooms and common areas
  • Outsourcing has also lifted the burden of monitoring RIAA/DMCA violations for a multitude of staff, who are now free to focus their efforts elsewhere.
  • 24/7 support 

“The ResNet has become a key asset in helping Buffalo State and its residential program stay competitive, as well as provide access to educational resources. An upgraded network supports student interaction, a component in the university’s new housing master plan.”

– Kris Kaufman, director of housing, SUNY Buffalo State

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