Spectar reports Wi-Fi service being analyzed

Victoria Grattan, Staff Writer

Oct. 17, an email was sent with an attachment from President Jem Spectar regarding, among other issues, improvements to campus wireless Internet connectivity.

According to the email, Information Technology Department workers have been analyzing the wireless connectivity and reviewing the number of connections and number of dropped connections on wireless access points.

Spectar said workers are identifying campus areas most in need of enhancements.

“This is a process, and we’re hoping to prioritize how to continue,” Spectar said.

At a meeting Spectar held, with Student Government Association members, he said concerns were raised about connection speeds, in particular, in the Living and Learning Center.  According to Spectar, students at the meeting indicated that connection speed in the center were sometimes slow.

To help solve this problem, he said that the number of access points may be increased to expand the coverage areas and improve connection speed in the .

Sophomore Living  and Learning Center resident Jared Daskal, said that the Wi-Fi in the Center could be better.

“When you are walking around campus, the connectivity goes in and out, therefore, it hinders productivity,” Daskal said.

Apperently no complaints have been received about coverage in the lodges, however, Spectar said that technical services staff are working on mapping coverage in these areas to identify whether there may be weak signal areas that have not been reported.

“The Tech Services team uses a combination of methods to identify weak spots,” Spectar said, answering questions by email.  They use an iPad to check on signal strength in different areas on campus.  When they find weak spots, they use a second scanning tool to diagnose the problem.  For instance, the second scan might discover that the access point isn’t working correctly, or that there is interference from some other source.”

By submitting an Information Technology help ticket to report areas with weak signal being specific and specific about the area affected, students can help staff identify where coverage should be evaluated. Spectar says that this is the best way to discover weak spots to improve coverage.

“The IT Help Ticket system also has received a small number of wireless-related tickets for spaces where there was no signal or instances where wireless connections were dropped because there were too many users for the access point to handle.

“The IT Help Tickets also works with students for help connecting devices,” Spectar said.

Some wireless devices, for example, smart televisions and game systems, are unable to automatically join the network.  These devices do not always support the additional security logins required to access the university network, Spectar said.

Access point activity also is monitored.

“The activity on each wireless access point is logged and reported.  This alerts IT staff if an access point shuts down or has unusual activity patterns that might indicate it’s not working correctly,” Spectar said.

Danielle Kurto, Laurel Hall resident, said that there are problems with Wi-Fi connectivity in this building.

“My Internet service goes in and out [throughout] the day. And I feel like it doesn’t connect well in the basement of the residence halls,” said Kurto. In the past, Wi-Fi connectivity issues also have interfered with Kurto’s ability to complete online assignments on time, she said.

In Hickory Hall, resident Courtney Honor said that she has experienced problems with Wi-Fi connectivity as well.

“It isn’t very good here,” she said.

When it comes to the priority level of improving the Wi-Fi coverage across campus, Spectar said it is very high.

“Wireless Expansion has been a very big priority for campus. We immediately ordered additional access points for the Center and for the Student Union when the network activity showed that these areas were experiencing poor service.”

The Student Union upper floor is to be a priority as well because Spectar said the wireless Internet coverage there reaches its capacity a lot.