By Kaie Quigley, Rayana Petrone & Josh Wolmer – Features Editor and 1851 Contributors
While the student body was away on winter break, the university made several technological upgrades in hopes of improving internet connection for the campus community. Taking a hybrid approach to the 2020-2021 school year due to COVID-19, having competent WiFi has become a necessity.
“Before, we weren’t heavily relying on Wi-Fi… the pandemic created this huge shift into focusing on improvements,” said Infrastructure Technician, Erin Larghi.
Upgrades made over the break included replacing and upgrading wireless controllers, reconfiguring access points throughout several dorms to provide a stronger signal in weak coverage areas, load balancing the network to prevent oversaturation, and replacing several network switches to increase bandwidth.
“We are always improving our equipment, and always looking for upgrades and patches,” said Mirian Sousa, Senior Infrastructure Technician. According to Sousa, it is important for the university “to always be as up to date with technology as possible.”
Since these improvements were made, “we have had… fewer tickets. And a lot of times, especially when a new semester starts, there are more registration issues and new devices and things like that. But we have had just a couple sporadic issues,” Sousa says.
Despite the decrease in tickets, students still reported running into issues with connectivity. “The internet turns off on me at times and I have to reboot my technology like my iPad and PlayStation 4. There are even times where the WiFi just won’t connect to my technology due to the fact the signal has been extremely weak,” said junior Michael Carbone.
Devices such as Carbone’s PS4 need to be registered with the campus network to connect properly. “Registration issues… can affect Wi-Fi connectivity,” said Larghi. To combat this issue, which according to Larghi is fairly common, the team simplified the registration process for the “Lasell Secure” network. The process no longer requires additional steps for students beyond logging in with their Lasell username and password.
“Personally I haven’t had too many issues with [the internet] and when I’m able to connect it runs decently,” said sophomore Jordan Jeroszko. “However, sometimes I’ll have a random day where I cannot connect to Wi-Fi at all or the latency is really bad. The most recent day in memory was a couple of weeks ago on a Thursday where the Wi-Fi went out for everybody at different points.”
Students and faculty alike experienced another outage recently where the internet and Canvas were down. This incident affected the ability of faculty and students to attend Zoom classes and participate in asynchronous courses.
While issues may continue to occur due to such high network traffic, IT reassured students that upgrades are an ongoing discussion, and they make every decision with the thought of students in mind. “We’re always working on improvements, we’re always looking to make the student life better. Most of the work we do is student-driven. So any feedback [students] can give us is a huge help on our end,” says Sousa. “We’re fully committed to making sure we provide the best experience possible for our users, not just the students, but the staff as well.”