Posted at 4 p.m. May 1, 2017

New routers, ISP cause hiccups in residence Wi-Fi

“The system we were using with Charter gave us a 20-megabyte connection ... Switching to the state of Wyoming Internet gives us a 1 gigabyte connection.”

Shaun O’Malley

Director of Residential Living and Student Conduct

Living in a residence hall offers many benefits while attending college, but many students living in Eagle Village also know the frustration of the Wi-Fi signal lagging or going offline all together.

Ethernet cables link the computer to the local area network (LAN). Wi-Fi works by using radio waves to connect the computer or device to the LAN.

“Ethernet is always going to be the best source to get your internet,” Director of Residential Living and Student Conduct Shaun O’Malley said. “It’s a wired connection, it’s wired straight into the servers. You don’t have any blockage from constructions materials that was used to create the buildings. It’s just the easiest and best way to get Internet in the Residence Hall, but that’s the same in any building.”

Concrete and large load bearing walls and beams can block Wi-Fi signals significantly. In some cases, the wall may block a signal completely.

“When you look at West Hall, it’s extremely concrete. It’s an old-school building, built in 1995, and so it’s all cinder block,” O’Malley said. “When you think about wireless signals getting through concrete, that’s a very hard thing to do.”

With the use of wireless computers and other handheld devices continuing to rise, the need for wireless bandwidth is increasing.

“But we do know that students like wireless because students want that mobility to be able to study in their common space, in the lobby downstairs, in the hallway, if they want to,” O’Malley said.

To help improve the bandwidth Residence Life and the LCCC IT department made large investments of time and money.

“So, last summer Resident Life spent $57,000 to upgrade the Internet,” O’Malley said. “A lot of that money went to upgrading switches. We had to replace a lot of the switches to withstand a higher connection to the Internet.”

New routers were also installed in the Residence Hall but like so many new devices and updated systems, the change came with growing pains.

“It’s a brand-new design. So, we have a lifetime warranty on them. We knew there are going to be some kinks. When you get a brand new iPhone there’s going to be some glitches in there. So, they worked all summer to rewire the Internet in the Residence Halls with these new routers,” O’Malley said. “And then in November, during Thanksgiving break, we actually switched from Charter to the state of Wyoming Internet. We knew going into that there were going to be some struggles.”

The change of Internet provider not only saved LCCC money but also increased the bandwidth substantially, O’Malley said.

“The campus uses state of Wyoming Internet, so the Internet that we use throughout the campus, is state of Wyoming. We were using Charter.” O’Malley said. “Charter is extremely expensive. The bill for the Internet from the Residence Hall was really high.”

The service from Charter was not only expensive, but provided very little bandwidth, limiting access and causing lagging downloads, Wifi crashes, and very little options when it came to roaming with your mobile device or computer.

“The system we were using with Charter gave us a 20-megabyte connection. So, it was very tight. We were paying a lot of money for a very small amount of bandwidth usage. Switching to the state of Wyoming Internet gives us a 1 gigabyte connection.” O’Malley said.

Streaming services for each device require a certain bandwidth for viewing. Netflix lists those requirements on its web site. The bare minimum broadband for viewing is suggested as 0.5 megabits per second.

To view high definition that requirement increases to 5.0 megabits per second, 10 times the amount of regular streaming video viewing. For those individuals who wish to view Ultra HD, the required broadband width is 25.0 megabits per second. That’s 50 times the amount required for regular streaming.

“Streaming movies, streaming Netflix, a lot of those streaming services require a lot of bandwidth,” O’Malley said. “So we wanted to add more bandwidth to our capacity so students have more flexibility for what they are doing on the internet.”

In January it was found that a few of those new routers were malfunctioning. Suppliers were informed and the routers were replaced as well as the firmware being updated by LCCC’s Information Technology department.

“I think there were just a lot of pieces going on, switching to the state Internet, switching to new routers, adding new routers, all to increase the wireless in the Residence Halls. But a lot of things going on made other things complex,” O’Malley said. “So, IT, over spring break went through all the student rooms testing the signal strength in every room. They made some adjustments where the signal was really weak and are working on improving that.”


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