A $30,000 project to upgrade the two routers for FSU from 1 GB to 10 GB will begin next month, according to Mike Zinkas, director of systems and networking.
Zinkas said the routers are for the adminstrative buildings and the residence halls.
“If you think about it like a piece of pie, if you have x number of people trying to get a piece of the pie, well, if there’s more people you’re going to have a smaller piece of the pie. What we need is to get a bigger pie,” said Zinkas.
Dale Hamel, executive vice president, said within the past three years, $614,000 has been spent from University funds and residence hall rental fees to update Wi-Fi and bandwidth.
According to Zinkas, three years ago, the University hired Radiant Networks do an assessment of the campus. Radiant Networks then made recommendations about how to improve coverage, and the updates from the past three years have been undertaken based on that analysis.
“We have more than tripled the coverage of the number of access points that we had, and that’s kind of hand-in-hand with the types of devices students have now. In the past, they would typically have one device, which would be a laptop, but now they have a smart laptop, smartphone, smart T.V. and smart everything else,” said Zinkas.
He added for the residence halls, access points have been put in every student’s room. The bandwidth from the past three years has also been upgraded from 300 MB to 2 GB for an “almost seven times growth in bandwidth” by negotiating with the University’s internet service provider, keeping increases in cost “to a bare minimum.”
The University still needs funding from college operations to complete the remaining recommendations to update coverage in administrative buildings such as Dwight and Crocker.
Zinkas said the aim of the assessment was “to identify any density or coverage limitations in preparation for deploying a new-and-state of the art wireless
He added another assessment “would be several years off at this point. The infrastructure we have supports all the latest wireless technologies inclusive of 802.11an.”
Zinkas said the IT department is currently working on switching to an authentication and encryption system that would require students and faculty to sign into the network.
“Ultimately, it’s the same network. It’s logically divided. At first, it will probably just be registered users,” said Zinkas.
This will be tested as a pilot project in the spring semester before launching in Fall 2017.
“It probably won’t have a huge effect on performance. It is a lot more security-related,” he said, adding the guest Wi-Fi will not have to sign in and will have access straight to the Internet, while registered users will have access to other resources, such as printing or file sharing.
Kristen Farrington, a sophomore who lives in Towers, said even with the Ethernet port it is difficult to connect during peak times, and the only places she gets good wireless connection are the McCarthy Center and the library. “It’s so frustrating. … It just seems to be worse.”
Sophomore Heather Hachey said the Wi-Fi “sucks” and it is frustrating when she is doing homework online and the Internet won’t load. “It won’t work when it actually matters.”
Some students complained about not having Ethernet ports in their rooms in West and North halls, while other residence halls on campus such as Towers and Peirce do.
Lauren Gambon, a junior, said, the Wi-Fi is “better than it was in Towers, but it still sucks.”
Zinkas said, “There’s typically a burning period with electronics, and if it’s going to fail, it’s going to fail generally in the first 30 days. So, we actually did have some failures on devices that were replaced and that type of stuff. It’s pretty standard as far as new deployment.”
He added since the beginning of the semester, only 39 tickets had been logged for all resident students, all commuter students and all faculty and staff.
Hamel said the choice not to put Ethernet ports in student rooms in West Hall due to the price and because he believes students are using the wireless Internet more.
“It’s the issue of, ‘Do you raise rent and provide both forms of access, or do you do wireless and hopefully provide complete coverage of the building?’ and we’re getting to that latter point. Because when we did open it, there were dead spots,” Hamel said.
SGA responds to student
Hamel said he followed up with SGA President Ezequiel De Leon about Wi-Fi updates after several students raised their concerns at an SGA meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 4.
“I certainly recognize what some the issues were, and, in fact, some of the updates we are planning on doing will hopefully address some of the issues, as well,” said Hamel.
On Thursday, Oct. 27 SGA held a table in the McCarthy Center Lobby for students to submit tickets with IT about where they are having problems connecting with the Wi-Fi. The table will be held again on Wednesday, Nov. 2 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
De Leon said setting up the table was an opportunity for students to submit tickets for problems they may have had with the Wi-Fi to best help IT.
According to De Leon, they handed out 213 flyers on how to submit IT requests.
“It’s a general thing that has been brought up not only at open forum, but just in the general campus atmosphere. The frustration is palpable. One of the difficulties of addressing student concerns such as Wi-Fi is it’s an expected one.” said De Leon.
He said, “Dale Hamel and the administrator’s response has been good. … I feel like Dale in particular was really helpful and really responsive to what student concerns were. I know he’s a strong supporter of this table and getting this information to IT.”
Sophomore Jillian Morin said the Wi-Fi is “awful. I cannot load a video. As of right now, I can’t FaceTime my family at all. I can see them but all they see is a blurry, frozen image.”
Junior Danny Spencer said he thinks the Wi-Fi is “not normally horrible, but it is during peak times, like 9 p.m. to midnight you can’t really do anything.”
Hamel said he thinks students may be having trouble accessing the Internet wirelessly because of the number of devices they have now.
“While there is more capacity … with more devices, there’s more demand and we’re always trying to chase demand,” said Hamel.
Hamel said he encourages students to submit tickets.
“A lot of times, there’s things we can’t address unless we know about it. ITS has a phrase, ‘weed and feed.’ They’re always adding, they’re taking away, when you put new ones in, they might be conflicting. So essentially people are out there being the testers of what has been done and what hasn’t been done, so the best way to see these holes filled or other issues addressed is by, in fact, submitting tickets,” he said.
Zinkas said, “We have a lot of monitoring tools and we can see a lot of things, but we can’t see everything. It’s not really an ‘us against them’ mentality. If students report issues, we’re more than happy to come out and look at what the issue is. Sometimes it’s on our end, and sometimes it’s on their end. As long as we know what the issues are – the specific issues, not just the wireless doesn’t work – we can address them.”
Hamel added, “When we hear ‘The Wi-Fi doesn’t work,’ we want to know more so we can figure out what exactly is the root cause.”
Hamel added there have been issues over the semester, citing how a speaker had to wait for a YouTube video to buffer during a program.
“We have to start thinking about ways to maybe consider how to change our behavior to make the system work better,” he said.