Improved Campus Cellular Coverage through Innovative Partnership with Carriers

Have you ever struggled to get wireless service on game day? We estimate that the call processing and data capacity of the existing cellular networks servicing the OSU Columbus campus will be exhausted within the next two years. So what does that mean? If left unaddressed, cellular users on campus will encounter "game day" types of problems every day.

The OCIO has partnered with Verizon Wireless to develop an innovative Neutral Host Wireless Distribution System (WDS) solution to ensure that campus cellular capacity and coverage will meet the ever-growing demand for mobile connectivity.

We know that many people on campus come with at least 2-3 wireless devices (smart phone, tablet, laptop, etc.). To address the immediate and projected capacity needs of the Columbus campus, the OCIO is leading a One University effort to deploy a Neutral Host WDS.

  • What is a Neutral Host Wireless Distribution System? The WDS project will improve cellular voice and data coverage and capacity for individuals using mobile devices of carriers who participate in the WDS. Cellular services are becoming increasingly important to the business, safety, and academic/teaching mission of the university. In addition to addressing the cellular needs of campus, the OCIO will be working with Verizon to build out the coverage for Public Safety radio frequencies on campus and the paging frequencies in Wexner Medical Center complex on main campus and Hospital East.
  • Why is "Neutral" important? OCIO did not want a situation where multiple carriers were implementing solutions unique to their network and on different timetables. We wanted one solution that could be implemented quickly and utilized by multiple carriers.
  • Who will build it? The system infrastructure will be designed, constructed, and installed through a partnership with Verizon Wireless. Verizon will absorb all costs related to the design, construction, and installation process, and also pay annual fees to Ohio State to host the system.
  • What is the Timeline? The entire project (which began June 2012) will span three years and be completed in three phases.
  • Phase I: Target completion of June 13, 2013
    • Wexner Medical Center Main Campus and Hospital East
    • Police Command Center Ohio Stadium
    • OSU Police Headquarters, Blankenship Hall
    • Parking lots at Ohio Stadium and Schottenstein Arena
    • Thompson Library, Ohio Union, Blackwell Inn
    • Tactical outdoor deployment to address indoor/outdoor coverage as a gap solution until Phase II is completed.
  • Phase II: Target Completion date of June 13, 2014
    • Residence Halls
    • 95% of outdoor campus space
    • Ohio Stadium
    • Schottenstein Arena
  • Phase III: This phase will include new construction identified since the beginning of the project and test the adequacy of campus coverage and determine what, if anything, is necessary for Phase III construction.

The university has become increasingly reliant on cellular voice and data services for our business resumption plans, disaster preparedness, Buckeye Alert notifications, and our day-to-day business operations. Our students, faculty, and staff are demanding consistent cellular coverage and high-speed data rates for access to university systems, personal and business communications, and Buckeye Alert emergency notifications. We are very pleased that we are working with Verizon on an aggressive schedule to implement the WDS and deliver the cellular coverage needed on campus.

Because of the building-based rollout of this system, OCIO will be working with departmental contacts and university building coordinators to ensure that people have the information they need to understand the timeline and activities occurring in their building.

If you have questions about this project, contact Charles Clay, Director of Telecom & Network  at 292-7177.