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The University of California Santa Cruz Improves Wi-Fi Network Outcomes for Students with 7SIGNAL

7SIGNAL’s Mobile Eye and Sapphire Eye have helped the network planning team gain visibility, harness better tools for troubleshooting, and optimize the network.

55.3.4 7Signal-v2

The Problem

The University of California-Santa Cruz houses about 10,000 students who live on campus 24/7 throughout 10 weeks each quarter. The student dormitories comprise about 60% of the Wi-Fi network managed by Network Operations Manager Michael Usher. Different support chains respond to help desk tickets for the dorms and for general campus networking. A residential support team, populated primarily by students, responds to residential issues, and a more typical help desk with full-time employees tackles the campus.

The network experiences issues when the technical teams don’t have the necessary tools to solve connectivity problems, which was a common occurrence for the dorm students. There wasn’t a clear way to determine the cause of the issue (the device or the infrastructure), even using tools that everyone throughout the different tiers in the support hierarchy could easily employ.

The pandemic made these issues more apparent since students had to use the dormitory network for absolutely everything, including video calls. The networks weren’t designed for that much usage. With all the different locations, construction materials, AP models, and student devices, the client experience was hugely variable.

In addition, the engineering team was constantly pinging the Aps to be sure they were up and running. They didn’t know what the service was actually like from the client’s point of view. They couldn’t obtain that information from the AP pings.

The Solution

7SIGNAL has been very valuable in helping engineers improve the network for students, particularly with Mobile Eye. The three primary use cases for Mobile Eye at this university are:

  1. Troubleshooting tickets: Mobile Eye provides flexibility of information that helps them troubleshoot connectivity at one level and performance and compatibility issues at another.
  2. Optimizing the network: The pandemic completely changed what students in dorms needed to be able to accomplish from that network. Students required additional access to voice and video capabilities, like Zoom. Mobile Eye, as well as Sapphire Eye®, allows network engineers to gain visibility to find coverage holes and to determine how the client experience is progressing. With information visibility, they can see what the actual experience is like and make better investment decisions on troubleshooting and refresh planning.
  3. Educating all techs so they can improve: The amount of visibility available with the tools allows for ongoing education.

The Results

7SIGNAL provides much greater visibility, allowing all tech team members to resolve problems more effectively. Michael says, “The huge advantage that we find with 7SIGNAL is that it’s really usable at different tiers of the support hierarchy. It has a value at tier 1, value at tier 2, and value at tier 3 for different kinds of tickets.”

Mobile Eye is particularly helpful in providing a look into the end user’s experience, information that quickly informs team members about what’s going on. Michael’s team can take a look at that data and push it down to the tier 1 team so they can start to handle those same issues directly. They’ll have the tools they need to investigate without ticket escalation.

One anecdote shows just how much 7SIGNAL has impacted network visibility. A student brought their desktop to campus and reported he didn’t have a good connection. A tech suggested using a new module, which worked for a while and offered better connectivity. Then the student had to open a new ticket because, while he had a great connection, he was only seeing one megabit of throughput. What was going on?

With the help of Mobile Eye, the team discovered it was because a planned upgrade in progress wasn’t completed yet. They discovered it was a port trunking issue, not a Wi-Fi issue, so they could nail that problem and fix it.

Michael says, “Now we’re going to be improving service for a couple hundred students in that building based on one student’s Mobile Eye reports that pointed us in the right direction.”

Contact 7SIGNAL to learn more

Working with 7SIGNAL means you could experience similar results for your organization. Contact 7SIGNAL to learn more about our wireless experience monitoring platform.

7SIGNAL® is the leader in wireless experience monitoring, providing insight into wireless networks and control over Wi-Fi performance so businesses and organizations can thrive. Our cloud-based wireless network monitoring platform continually tests and measures Wi-Fi performance at the edges of the network, enabling fast solutions to digital experience issues and stronger connections for mission-critical users, devices, and applications. Learn more at www.7signal.com.