NUIT, Student Affairs work to improve campus Internet as wireless use climbs

Jillian Sandler, Campus Editor

In response to reports of patchy connections, Northwestern University Information Technology is working to re-engineer the campus wireless network to accommodate the increasing usage of wireless devices on campus.

Wendy Woodward, director of technology support services for NUIT, wrote in an email to The Daily that NUIT is working with its hardware vendor on reconfiguring the network to better handle the climbing use of wireless devices. She said NUIT is also collaborating with NU’s Division of Student Affairs to create a long-term solution to wireless issues on campus. The two parties will meet in the coming weeks to discuss a plan.

The current network is designed to accommodate one to two wireless devices per person, Woodward wrote in the email. However, students are now signing on to more wireless devices at a given time, thereby reducing speed and connection abilities, she said.

The structure of older buildings on campus has also contributed to slower wireless connection, Woodward said.

“The older residential buildings were constructed in such a way that wireless signals do not easily move throughout the facility,” she wrote. “As such, the combination of increased usage and limited signal flow is resulting in service blips and, understandably, customer frustration.”

As a short-term solution, Woodward said technicians have been responding to and troubleshooting reports around campus over the past few weeks.

Students living in Bobb-McCulloch Residence Hall, built in 1955, said they have seen technicians looking into amending signaling issues in the dorm, where they said there have been connection problems.

Medill sophomore Ross Gordon said technicians have been in his room in Bobb multiple times over the past week. He said they were trying to attain signals and determine the overall problem with the connection in the area.

“It’s pretty frequent that I lose Internet access,” Gordon said. “I think the school should definitely work on making the Wi-Fi in Bobb stronger and more continuous.”

Communication sophomore Michael Bass, also a Bobb resident, said he has been experiencing the most severe connection issues since returning from Winter Break.

“It’s slow when it works,” he said. “When it connects, it often drops the connection … It’s just non-functioning.”

Weinberg freshman Arianna Yanes said she has not experienced the same degree of frustration in Bobb. She said the Internet is usually fast when it is up and running, but when it cuts out, it is usually a matter of just waiting for it to restart.

But even with the frustration of poor wireless connection, Gordon said he recognizes the efforts to improve the issue.

“It’s not at the quality of where I want it to be, but I know the University at the same time is putting a lot of effort into fixing it,” he said.