The conflict of human versus technology – just about every student on campus has been there at some point through the first month of the semester. Phones are connected to “scmobile” one minute and kicked to LTE the next, eating up monthly data allowance. Laptops and mobile devices are seemingly forever stuck on loading screens, with pages refusing to materialize before students give up and attempt to refresh their Internet feed. According to some, these issues vary from location to location in certain vicinities.
“I’m in the [Living Center] and the Wi-Fi from my room isn’t very good,” said student Caity DeMichele. “If I have to get any work done I’ll go to the common room, or my living room where the connection’s better, but I can’t get anything done in my personal room.”
Students have experienced connection chaos early in the semester and have been left confused as to why. Most have attributed it to routers experiencing traffic due to the increase in student population.
“I think there’s just a lot of people trying to use it and not enough routers,” said DeMichele. “I think with the amount of freshmen we’ve brought in, the routers are overcrowded.”
Junior Kyle Kisiel has his own analysis and theory on the connection in Alumni Hall.
“Wi-Fi is a hard issue,” he said. “Especially with the type of building we have. The brick walls may not be good [for connection], and with the day and age we’re in now, there’s a lot of interference between each other’s connection. We’re using three different devices at the same time that use Wi-Fi. I’m sure there’s something that can be done, but I’m not expecting a miracle.”
Administration from the Harold C. Smith Learning Commons’ Tech Support Center states they have been monitoring any connection issues since the start of the semester, and encourage communication from the student body. Tech support does not believe any lags in wi-fi connection are attributed to a greater campus population.
“Our residence halls are not completely full right now,” Davis said. “Even when we were full, we were doing pretty well. I think it’s been the proliferation of the apps and the different usages that have become common.”
Instead it is believed to be an excessive amount of apps open at once that are causing the problems.
“One area that people don’t really think about that much is their cell phone,” said Danny Davis, Springfield College CIO. “If they’ve got eight or nine apps open on their phone, those apps are still talking to the network. The same thing goes with computers if there are several browsers open and a lot of interaction going on that aren’t being used.”
Director of Technology Solutions Center Trish Dalessio can recall the instances when she’s sat at tech support’s circulation desk and closed endless phone apps of students who’ve dealt with the frustration of loading bars failing to reach the right of the screen. “All of us are walking around with a wireless hog in our pocket,” she said. “I can all depend on what you have open. As soon as you’re done closing any unused apps [it should be] all good.”
Tom Larkin, pointed out a potential cause of disconnection or lag in laptops.
“Another thing that can affect connection is inactivity,” he said. “If you walk away from your computer and don’t use the internet, the server will assume you’re not there anymore and drop you off.”
Connection issues vary from location on campus, but the main problem according to students, have come from within the dorms. Phones are occasionally disconnecting at random, and the speed of the residents’ Xboxes and PlayStations have been sluggish.
Tech Support states that it’s analyzed this conflict on a deeper level. They’ve found that Xbox, PlayStation, and Netflix are all systems with the highest utilization and are typically in use all at once later during the nights. Davis stated there is always the option to restrict certain capabilities with these applications, but is not something he’s considered.
“Xbox, PlayStation, and Netflix are all very high in usage they’re highest entities in need of service has been entertainment,” he said. “Other schools have been taking action on limiting the amount of what can be done on their networks – we have not done that. I don’t want to do that. We’re trying to manage a complicated feed. We want to make it feel like home, without compromising anything, especially what you can do in your academic space.”
Tech support emphasized its commitment towards helping students complete their work in a timely manner, without any wi-fi disruptions. If students are experiencing instances where phones or computers drop off at random while working in a single spot, or are forced to restart their systems, the department is eager to assist.
Dalessio mentioned the job tickets received by tech support in relation to instances of slow Wi-Fi. Between August and October, reports regarding poor internet connection added up to 25 tickets. During that three month span the total number of job tickets stacked up at around 2,000. In the past four weeks there has been only three calls acknowledging low server quality.
“If students can’t get their work done because of poor wireless connection it is our No. 1 priority to fix it,” Dalessio said. “Student and wireless are two key words, they’ll drop everything to help.”
Davis echoed Dalessio’s eagerness.
“We’d really like for the students to talk to us – if they can jot down when and where it happens in any report, that would be helpful. Whether we hear from people or not, we’re always watching [the server]. But students on campus are living the context and we’re trying to read it.”
Davis emphasized detailed job tickets because there could be several environmental complexities hampering connection.
“One thing we’ve learned is that the older access points work at a 2.5 gigahertz rate,” said Davis. “But the microwaves do that too. So [in theory] what could be happening is that when someone’s popping popcorn there’s a chance it can jam your signal and you’ll drop off. There also may be an access point that’s going bad and we don’t know it.”
Davis reiterated that although the wifi server and its routers are watched closely, situations regarding poor connection vary. An excess of apps can be open, phones may be transitioning to “scmobile” from “sc-outdoors” or there can occasionally be an outage in the router. Though through it all, if students are experiencing any spotty connection or the notorious “no internet” icon, the key is to not be afraid of asking tech support.
“The wireless connection on this campus is, ‘insert whatever adjective you want,’” said Dalessio. “I love the energy, and I’d love it if students demonstrated the energy by coming to us. We care. We want to get it right.”