The University of Winnipeg’s Wi-Fi network has many students wondering why they can’t connect more quickly.
Last year, many U of W students had difficulty accessing the Internet from their laptops due to a virus that confused the wireless network. Since then, that problem has been solved but students still struggle daily with myriad connection and speed issues.
The university asserts that improvements are being made to accelerate student connections this year.
“Overall, our Internet capacity has been more than doubled and our Wi-Fi capacity is actually slightly increased from last fall,” said Richard Nakoneczny, chief operating officer of the Technology Solutions Centre for the University of Winnipeg.
This comes as a shock to some students who are unsatisfied with the current system.
“I don’t even bother bringing my laptop to school most of the time, since I know downloading will be slow,” said first-year student Dallian Sephton. “It’s not worth the hassle.”
The U of W has one large router, providing access to students, faculty and guests, but plans on expanding to two.
“What we have is fundamentally a very large capacity, very sophisticated version of a home Wi-Fi router,” Nakoneczny said.
“At the moment, we have one of those controllers which we have had for a number of years. A second unit – part of the generous donation from Cisco Systems – will be installed in November. At that time, the current unit will be upgraded.”
He added that the second unit will share the capacity and provide backup, should one unit fail.
All Wi-Fi traffic is carried on a single network, even for the new buildings like the Buhler Centre.
“Once the new buildings are operational, the student population will be spread over a larger geographic area and a larger number of network access points,” Nakoneczny said. “That should reduce contention for network access.”
U of W vice-president academic John Corlett adds that updating information technology is an expensive undertaking.
“We want students to go online and find all the information they need,” he said. “We’re working on a lot of these things but it means we need a lot of investment into our IT system.”
Issues with the U of W student e-mail accounts have also occurred. Last week, the spam filter malfunctioned and users’ messages were quarantined inappropriately.
However, Nakoneczny notes these problems are usually fixed within a few days.
Some professors prefer if students send them e-mails through the university provided accounts because Hotmail and Gmail accounts are sources of spam.
As for having another e-mail account to monitor, Sephton finds it annoying.
“To be honest, I don’t even remember how to get on it,” she said.
For more information, visit the Technology Solutions Centre’s website at www.uwinnipeg.ca/index/tsc-index.
Published in Volume 65, Number 7 of The Uniter (October 14, 2010)