Wi-Fi worries

ITS is gathering feedback from students in order to better improve the connectivity of the Wi-Fi.

ITS is gathering feedback from students in order to better improve the connectivity of the Wi-Fi.

With help from student feedback, Information Technology Services (ITS) is making strides to improve the wireless Internet problems experienced on Christopher Newport University’s rapidly growing campus.
Stephen Campbell, Chief Information Officer and Information Security Officer for ITS, attributed the Wi-Fi problems to growing pains on campus. With the installation of wireless Internet in the residence halls during the summer of 2012, ITS underestimated the density of Wi-Fi use in certain areas, according to Campbell. Each wireless access point supports about 40 users, but if 100 students group around one point, some will be unable to connect. Additionally, Campbell said the need for more access points has resulted in rapid network growth, especially due to the addition of Warwick River, Rappahannock River, and Luter Halls, and exceeded the capacity of the back-end systems.
Although wired connections still remain in the residence halls, the popularity of wireless Internet has become dominant. Students want to exclusively use wireless, and on two or more devices, at that, with the use of smartphones, tablets, and other such devices. This multiplies the need for additional access points. “We just need to keep adding more and more capacity to our environment,” said Campbell. “And that is a top priority for us. It’s just going to take a little bit of time to make those changes, but we’re working on it now.”
ITS added 150 wireless access points over the summer, but that was just the beginning. In addition to strengthening the back-end systems, ITS is in the process of compiling information about problem areas around campus. Campbell had been adamant about hearing from students about the problems associated with the Wi-FI. He emailed the student body on Oct. 8 requesting feedback from students on problem areas and received about 100 responses. For the next few weeks, an ITS table will be in the David Student Union every Tuesday and Thursday from 12 to 1 p.m. in order to collect information from students on wireless problems.
Whether through work orders or direct contact, ITS needs to hear from students in order to identify problem areas and better improve the Wi-Fi. “If you’re aware of a problem, you have to report it,” said Campbell. “You can’t just wait until somebody else reports it for you. Because then, if nobody says anything, we’re making our best guess at where we need to put this stuff, especially when it comes to capacity.”
After gathering enough feedback, ITS will compile and prioritize the information. The infrastructure team will then begin working on the most problematic areas on campus, according to Campbell. Brian Foran, Assistant Director of ITS for Infrastructure Services, has already begun planning improvements to the Wi-Fi on East Campus, which has been especially problematic, said Campbell. However, every area and any problem mentioned by students will be addressed.
“We want to have very reliable, very dependable wireless so anywhere students go on campus, you’ll be able to expect a certain level of access wirelessly,” said Campbell.

1 comment

  1. Kayla

    ITS is doing great job by gathering students views on WiFi worries. Nowadays everyone is in need of internet access and hopefully ITS will provide improved WiFi internet to the campus.