Wi-Fi problems plague campus

Wireless Internet has become a hot topic of conversation around campus. Students often complain about issues of poor connectivity or in some cases a lack of Wi-Fi.

Temporarily losing Internet may seem trivial when only sites like Facebook, Skype and YouTube are considered. However, when the amount of educational material that requires Internet access is taken into consideration, then it suddenly becomes problematic.

Many of the initial problems students had with the Wi-Fi security and registration have been resolved by the Information Technology department. Students are still having problems connecting to the Wi-Fi because of a record number of devices trying to access it on campus.

Sophomore international businesses major Blake Mariage said, “I feel that the Internet has drastically decreased in quality since last year. I live in Beall. The signal is so weak and inconsistent that we never use it. It feels like I do not have Wi-Fi.”

The reason there are problems with Wi-Fi is that there is not adequate bandwidth to provide for an unexpectedly high number of devices.

Junior English major Faith Forester sits in her car where she finds the Internet connection to be most reliable. Photo by Ethan Mitra.

Junior English major Faith Forester sits in her car where she finds the Internet connection to be most reliable. Photo by Ethan Mitra.

The problem is simple to understand, but it is not a simple problem for the IT department to fix.

IT has ordered a $100,000 upgrade, which is scheduled to be installed in late October.

As more students in the  residence halls purchase portable Wi-Fi devices like smart phones and iPads it is not surprising that there have been more than 5,000 different Wi-Fi devices connected to the Internet through the course of the semester. Students who use their own routers significantly add to the problem.

Associate Vice President for Information Technology Brent Harris said, “We don’t allow wireless access points because it interferes with the wireless and conflicts with our existing network.”

Contrary to the belief of many students, the IT department is aware that Cru Net is not providing adequate Wi-Fi coverage for students, and they are taking steps to fix the problem.

They sent out an email last Wednesday addressing some problems and attempting to reassure students.

Harris said, “We are definitely aware of the problem and are working to resolve the issues.”

IT has contacted the manufacturer to get its input and assistance. They are also in communication with other universities that use the same hardware as UMHB.

Harris said, “We are changing the configurations, and that is what the vendors have been looking at. We asked them to do two things, look at what we have and is there anything we can do to improve or extend the infrastructure we have immediately.” 

Without sufficient wireless Internet, students who use Wi-Fi, cannot email their professors. Several professors exclusively post their assignments on the MyCampus website or even require students to pay for online accounts to do homework.

To cope with failing Wi-Fi, many students go to the library which requires silence, and activities like using Skype would not be condoned.

Junior English major Faith Forester wanted to Skype her boyfriend. Since the Wi-Fi was out at her apartment, she went to her car, which was only 15 feet from her apartment. A simple solution to poor Wi-Fi is an Ethernet cable. It can be purchased either on campus at IT or at some retail stores. Not every student’s Ethernet seems to work.

A week ago freshman chemistry major Ryan Sewell’s Ethernet stopped working. He uses the McLane computer lab, but since he is on crutches he would rather not have to.

Sewell said, “I haven’t been able to study as much. I have to go to a lab somewhere. Seeing as I am on crutches, this is very inconvenient.”

The IT department is concerned with all students who are having technical issues. Harris wants students to know that they are not a number, and  they can talk directly to him.

He said, “I hope that students are patient with us and give us the opportunity to earn back their trust. I think one of the most important things we as IT provide is reliable connectivity, so we are committed to make that happen.”

Author: Ethan Mitra

Bio info coming soon!

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