Complaining about the internet is a common occurrence across college campuses everywhere, none more apparent than William Peace University with its host of students questions and concerns.
Some of the concerns commonly heard across campus include the number of different wireless networks available, the departure of several members of the Information Technology department, and the general lack of information available to the student body about what is going on and why things are the way they are.
“The internet is a dissatisfier, it never makes anyone happy,” said Darryl McGraw, Chief Information Officer for WPU. “You never hear about it when it’s working, only when there are issues. You never hear how great the internet on campus is, only when it’s down or slow.”
In terms of how the Wifi works, McCraw says the various networks that are available are intended for different uses both by students, staff, and events. The eduroam network is meant for student computers only, to ensure that classwork is able to be done at the highest possible speed. The wpu-registered network is intended for other personal devices such as game consoles and printers. This is another secure network that while not as fast as eduroam, is still meant specifically for students and staff.
All of the other networks such as wpu-conferenceevents are intended for either specific places like the Welcome Center or for events on campus. These networks are all throttled, meaning they are slower and have less priority than eduroam or wpu-registered. The reasoning for this is so that no matter what is going on on campus, student work will always have priority.
There have been a host of improvements behind the scenes this semester to the system as a whole. Improved backup power in case of power outages to enable the network to stay online longer as well as server upgrades from the outsourced wifi provider.
Some students have noticed the difference.
“This semester the internet has been reliable everywhere on campus. The internet has only gone down a few times and IT has been pretty quick to come back up,” said Julia Johnson, a senior campus resident.
Network Monitors utilized by the IT department show real-time internet usage for the entire campus allowing for analysis of when and how much data is being used. Since the start of January, no more than 70 percent of the bandwidth available to the school is ever used. It’s also worth noting that the busiest times for the network are during Simulation and Game Design classes, as well as evenings, starting around 8 p.m.
Students in the SGD department will be pleased to know that there are plans in the coming weeks to redesign the networking for the game design lab.
Starting this month, construction on a direct cable to the MCNC fiber network will begin and should be done by the end of the semester. This should result in improved latency, or responsiveness, for all internet across campus.
The already improved backup power for the server will be upgraded again over the summer break when a generator is planned to be acquired.
Both Ed Parsons and Maria Geddis have left the department, leaving two openings in their place. The current plan is to hire two technical support staff with the goal of improving responsiveness to classroom and network problems as well as ensuring 24-hour coverage. Currently, with only two staff splitting the work of four people, total coverage and fast responsiveness is a struggle.
Photo by Sydney Brown