UNC Charlotte upgrades WiFi with Siemon's Cat 6A OSP cable, Z-plug field terminations

May 4, 2020
Delivering faster connection speeds to over 29,000 students and 24 academic and administrative campus buildings is no easy task. Siemon made it happen.

UNC Charlotte is North Carolina’s urban research university that offers internationally competitive programs to more than 29,000 students, and its College of Computing and Informatics is the largest computing college in North Carolina. The University strives to address the educational and social needs of the greater Charlotte region, and part of that commitment is ensuring an infrastructure that makes learning accessible and supports the scholarly activities of the faculty.

Every year, UNC Charlotte conducts a wireless survey that assesses internal and external Wi-Fi capacity and capability, academic impact and growing/changing technology. As part of the budget planning process, the University’s Information Technology Services (ITS) team leverages information from this survey to determine which buildings receive upgrades each year.

As a result of the survey, the University recently embarked on a campus-wide Wi-Fi upgrade to deliver faster connection speeds.

The upgrade project included 24 academic and administrative campus buildings and added 440 WAPs, delivering a Wi-Fi coverage net increase of 44% for the buildings and 20% for the entire campus. A key part of the campus initiative was increased outdoor Wi-Fi coverage. To support the new higher-throughput WAPs and future capacity, the ITS team ran two Category 6A connections to each WAP.

When it came to the outdoor WAPs, the team was presented with some challenges.

“The original desire was to use an outdoor-rated gel-filled patch cord for connecting the WAPs, but nobody offers such a cord, so we decided to purchase the cable separately and terminate it to Siemon’s Z-Plug field terminated plug,” said Andrew Abernethy, Network Technician at UNC Charlotte.

Abernethy added, “Our WAP manufacturer left it up to us to figure out how to protect the connection, so we reached out to Siemon and they worked with us to provide the protective metal gland that slides over the cable before termination and then threads onto the WAP.”

Deployed in tandem with Siemon's Category 6A OSP cable, the solution ultimately allowed the University’s ITS team to easily connect the outdoor WAPs, maintain protection of the connection and still achieve the Category 6A performance they needed for adequate throughput.

The same solution was also used for WAPs located in harsh environments, such as pool areas and locker rooms subject to moisture and humidity. UNC Charlotte now has approximately 250 outdoor WAPs to deliver ample coverage for today’s students to remain connected wherever they are on campus.

Siemon’s patented Z-Plug field-terminated plug offered UNC Charlotte a quick, reliable high-performance field termination for custom length patch connections to WAPs. The company notes that its Z-Plug exceeds all category 6A performance requirements to easily support the latest high-throughput, high-efficiency Wi-Fi applications.

It also terminates to shielded and UTP, solid and stranded cable in conductor sizes from 22 to 26 gauge – all with a single part number, as noted by the manufacturer, making it easy to create a variety of patch cords for different applications.

Read the full application case brief from Siemon.

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