Fighting to connect: Olivet’s struggle to stay online

By: Alex Ewers, Justin Kollar, Melissa Luby, Jada Fisher and Mary Hall

 

Breakdown of devices registered in 2014. Each item registered with the IT department is capable of connecting to Olivet’s wireless internet system.

Students line the hallways of the basement of Benner Library all waiting for their turn to get their devices looked at by information technology “IT” staff. However, the line for working Wi-Fi is long – two months long to be exact.

While students are frustrated that they cannot connect to the Internet, their impatience is not with those who are charged with fixing it. Students’ frustrations lie with the fact that Olivet is having the issue in the first place and the challenges that have come from it. In a poll conducted by The Slacker Journal Chronicle, every student expressed frustration toward the unreliability in the Wi-Fi.

“I pay $40,000 to go here a year and I can’t get decent Wi-Fi,” senior Robin Gerboth said.

“After paying all this money you’d think you could use the Internet. It shouldn’t be this hard,” sophomore Brandon Baker said.

The inconsistency of the Wi-Fi has been noticed by a number of students.

Senior Lamica Simmons said she has to reconnect to the Wi-Fi network as many as four times a week while others range anywhere from six to eight times before establishing a sound connection.

Screen shot 2014-09-25 at 1.47.12 PMSolomon, the main network established for students to connect to the Internet, may not be the main network if this issue continues.

Students are beginning to rely on other networks, ONUGuest in particular, to connect to the Internet.

“I have to use ONUGuest if I want to use the Internet when I am not in my room with my Ethernet,” junior Walker Runyan said. “[ONUGuest] is annoying though because I have to re-register every day.”

“I have yet to connect to Solomon on my laptop,” Runyan added. But connecting to Wi-Fi has been challenging overall. Because of the connection issues, many students are beginning to connect through the landline. This landline is otherwise known as the Ethernet.

“The only way I can get Internet to work in the apartment is through the wired connection. [It] is okay, I guess; but this is ridiculous,” sophomore Kristopher Slade said.

While frustrations are high among students, a large concern is that the Wi-Fi is preventing students from getting their work done in a timely fashion.

Students are beginning to go off-campus to complete their homework because of the Wi-Fi issue, according to the Slacker Journal Chronicle poll. Some locations that students are choosing to go to complete homework include Barnes & Noble, Denny’s restaurant and the local libraries.

“I had to go to Starbucks to get the new iPhone update because you just can’t connect to Solomon. It’s so frustrating,” junior Brianna Price said.

Although students do not like that the Wi-Fi is not working like it should be and that it effecting their ability to do their school work, they do appreciate all of the work that the IT department is doing to resolve the problem.

“When the Wi-Fi is working, it is great. It is fast and easy to use. I appreciate all of the IT dept. hard work to help us have the best connectivity possible,” junior Katie Reed said.

“IT is doing all that they can to fix the issue. It is not their fault that all of this happened now,” junior Marissa Vander Ploeg said.

 

Spilling the beans: IT speaks out

Technicians in Olivet’s department of Information Technology are just as frustrated by the continued wireless difficulties as the myriad of students filing reports.

Dennis Seymour, the Chief Information Officer, said that solving the Wi-Fi crisis is a complex problem. “There are several problems happening at once,” he said. “Every time we fix one, we find another.”

Olivet has been working with their wireless vendor, Aruba, to fix the problem. Since August, Olivet’s IT department and Aruba have exchanged at least 70 conference calls. Olivet has been promoted to Aruba’s highest level of technical support and is in direct contact with the superintendent of engineers at Aruba. In addition to an on-site Aruba representative, Olivet is also hosting third-party consultants in the hopes of finding a solution to the problem.

Although there is still much work to be done, Chris O’Brien in IT said that wireless connectivity seems “significantly better” than it was during the first weeks of the school year. Despite the influx of new devices—the number of student devices nearly doubled from 4,500 last year to 7,000 this year—IT is certain that the internet problem is not caused by the increased load. “Solomon can handle the traffic,” said Seymour. IT has added several more connection points to help balance the new devices; Olivet now has over 820 connection points across campus.

IT says wireless connectivity seems “significantly better.”

IT recognizes that Wi-Fi is the main way that students connect to the Internet, but advises students to make use of other options until a solution is found. IT recommends using Ethernet on compatible devices; students can receive an Ethernet cord by visiting the IT office on the rear of Benner Library. In addition, the campus has many labs with computers connected to wired networks. Students can also take the survey issued by IT, which helps technicians to gauge the successes and failures of their improvements and isolate problem areas.

Although Solomon is the focus of IT’s current efforts, IT also plans to repair the older network Judah. Judah exists for those whose devices do not support connection to Solomon—mostly older devices and gaming systems. Judah is not encrypted and is less secure than Solomon, but it serves a purpose.

Besides the issues with wireless connectivity, IT is busy fixing a host of other technological problems both on Olivet’s main campus and on off-site locations. IT was responsible for moving the data and voice services for two departments to new buildings, repairing the ERP system, fixing the radio transmitter for Shine.fm, and adding the new Stratford apartments to the wireless network.

Solving the wifi issues are important to Seymour, O’Brien, and the rest of the IT team. “We take this very seriously,” Seymour said.

 

 

 

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  1. What is The Slacker Journal Chronicle?

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