AQW 12021/17-22 – Wi-Fi in Parliament Buildings

Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Assembly Commission what measures are being taken to improve wi-fi in Parliament Buildings.

Assembly Commission: The current Wi-Fi network was installed in Parliament Buildings in 2013 and originally consisted of 84 wireless access points located throughout the building. An additional 16 access points were purchased and installed in 2015 in order to improve the overall Wi-Fi signal coverage for building users.

The current Wi-Fi network shares the Assembly’s main internet connection, which was upgraded from 80 to 500 Megabits in 2017. The speed of this connection is monitored on a daily basis and is currently operating well within the capacity of the connection.

Since the return of Assembly business in 2020 and the greater demand for video conferencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, IS Office is aware that Wi-Fi connectivity and signal quality has been an issue for some Members.

In response IS Office has recently purchased web cams for use by Members and party support staff and these are currently being rolled out. The web cams will be installed on desktop PCs in Parliament Buildings and as they will use the Assembly wired network, they should provide a much more reliable service.

IS Office has also recently issued written advice to Members on how best to manage Wi-Fi connections on mobile devices.
As the current system is approaching end of life, IS Office intends to undertake a review of the system and to set up a project to replace the Wi-Fi network infrastructure before the end of the current Assembly mandate.

Should Members experience any difficulty with Wi-Fi access or performance in Parliament Buildings they should contact the IS Office Service Desk. IS Office will continue to monitor the current Wi-Fi service in Parliament Buildings and will respond appropriately to any specific issues as they arise.