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Administration Looks to Improve Wi-Fi Connection

As we slowly approach A.I. complex enough to rival fictional depictions like in the Terminator franchise, students and workers alike find it harder and harder to live without the web.

On an ever changing campus with students and faculty that rely on a stable digital infrastructure, what problems lay behind the curtain and how are those problems being solved?

Many OWU students cited internet issues last semester despite the upgrades promised during the Summer of 2022. Network speed, instability, and outages were most frequent among the students’ experiences. These problems can cause students to turn in assignments late and become unable to work on projects. while also affecting faculty meetings that take place over zoom.

Some departments work almost exclusively in a remote capacity. In speaking with Kyle Jenkins, director and coach of the esports program, he was adamant about the critical nature of the internet in his field.

He began by comparing each department to a factory: the admissions department produces new students with the resources of potential students and what is essentially a marketing team; the football team produces games/teams with a field, athletes and equipment. The key resource by which the ESports team functions however is far more volatile, the internet.

“My job doesn’t exist without the internet,” said Jenkins.

Fortunately for Jenkins and the rest of the team, the arena by which they compete and practice has access to a server all to themselves. This means that competitions and practice remain mostly unaffected by fluctuations in the internet quality. This doesn’t remain true for Jenkins’s laptop (or the rest of campus for that matter) where he does all of his managerial work, because of this he has had issues with getting things done in lieu of outages.

Because of the issues regarding the internet from last year, more upgrades were scheduled for this past summer. But even with those upgrades, the internet continues to plague the student experience. So either things aren’t being upgraded like we’ve been told, or the issue is rooted somewhere else.

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Though many of these outages sound like universal experiences, Brian Rellinger, Chief Information Officer at OWU, wants students to know that the internet issues are more isolated than they might expect.

Across the OWU campus there are about 1,000 internet access points. If you’ve noticed small white devices on the ceilings of resident halls and faculty buildings, those are the individual access points. Each of these usually host the connections for anywhere from 5 to 15 students.

If an access point has a momentary issue or is strained for resources, the internet will affect all the devices connected to that access point. A house can have internet instability or outages across just one or two routers, but when you scale that up to a whole university, issues begin to appear much more frequently.

Sometimes the issue is as simple as a student not registering the device properly. An unnamed student he had trouble connecting their Play Station 5 to the internet. When asked about the process by which he connected the device he did not follow the instructions. Rellinger also brought up how students have a hard time connecting to the internet, and sometimes the real issue is just user error.

This past summer’s upgrades to the internet were almost strictly hardware upgrades to these access points: replacing switches, routers, and the digital firewall. Beyond that, in the coming weeks, the information center will be implementing software upgrades that will match the status quo of the access point replacements.

Rellinger made it clear that these issues can be fixed. Most of the time it is as simple as submitting a support ticket to the technical support in Corns Hall.

“We’d rather hear from you than know you’re having a bad experience,” Rellinger said.

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