EC informs students of Wi-Fi problems

Untitled Throughout the 2015-2016 school year, EC students have been complaining about the slowness of the Wi-Fi on campus explaining how it interrupts not only daily entertainment on the internet, but also academics. “One day I was in Memorial Hall and couldn’t connect to any Wi-Fi,” Nicholette LeBlanc, a senior Nursing and Spanish major at EC said. “I had to work on a group project during class and we were only given an hour, so spending 15 minutes trying to connect was a waste of valuable class time.” According to Dr. Jim Kulich, vice president & chief information officer of information services, EC has only 500 Megabits per second (MB) of bandwidth for the entirety of campus and the available amount of bandwidth available is no longer enough with an increasing use of different services. “One thing we have seen and anticipated … is that the demand, as people start to use more streaming services such as Netflix … has absolutely mushroomed in the last 12 months or so beyond anything we’ve ever seen before,” he said in a personal interview. According to Kulich, EC had prepared for this lack of bandwidth in Summer 2015 and signed an additional contract with Wide Open West, an Internet cable and phone line service. However, when building permits were required to continue work, a two to three week process turned into nine months and counting, bringing everything to a halt. EC was left with a demand for fast Wi-Fi and an inability to satisfy the students. Kulich also explained exactly why the bandwidth isn’t enough at this school. “Imagine this really large fire hose of traffic that can be easily accommodated [through the updated infrastructure] but the bandwidth that is available through the service provider is kind of like connecting the huge fire hose to a garden hose at the back end. So all of the stuff can flow, there’s just nowhere for it to go,” he said in an interview. If students were to go into academic buildings such as the Frick Center, the Internet will work much better than in the Residence Halls. This is because a decision was made by EC to prioritize internet to those areas of campus, which normally deal with academics, according to Kulich. Students have expressed their frustration with the amount they are spending on cell phone data because the Wi-fi is so slow. “It took me 10 minutes just to open up Blackboard last week and when it finally loaded, it had an error,” Jayson Anderson, an EC junior and communications major said. “My phone says I have spent over 7GB on my mobile Hotspot alone just trying to get my homework done.” However, until the permits are cleared and the work gets done on campus the college cannot do much. Dr. Dean Jensen, director of infrastructure and web applications at EC, explained that he has heard the complaints of the students and there’s little they can do without the work being done. “We’ve done everything we can at this point,” he said in a personal interview. “We are going to meet with other colleges soon and talk to them about what they did, but we’ve explored every short term possibility.” After all is said and done, the bandwidth for EC should be 1GB per sec by the end of April at the latest, according to Kulich. In addition, this won’t be a complete change from providers; EC will be home to two different Internet providers, Cogent (EC’s current provider) and Wide Open West. The point of having two providers giving the college bandwidth is so that if something fails with one of them, there’s always the other as backup, according to Jensen. Additionally, Cogent had higher rates, which is why EC sought out Wide Open West. Because of the added hardware, buying more bandwidth for the campus should be much easier and the college plans to add more by the end of the summer in addition to the 500 MB by the end of April.