Connor McGowan ’15
As we reach the halfway mark of the fall semester many students have had plenty of time to settle in and adjust to life here at Merrimack College. With this being said there’s been one consistent issue that many students have been facing and dealing with: Wi-Fi connection.
Whether you live in the new buildings, the freshman quad, or the apartments in the back of campus, students are complaining about problems with their Wi-Fi connection.
After doing research and testing multiple parts of campus, it seemed Wi-Fi connection issues were predominantly coming from residence halls, rather than academic buildings such as O’Reilly and Sullivan Hall. The Beacon asked the school’s Chief Information Officer Chip Stiles to provide specific details about the Wi-Fi issues and the possible solutions Merrimack has in the works to fix the issue.
When asked if he has noticed any sort of Wi-Fi issues, Stiles responded with, “Yes, absolutely.”
“There’s been constant investigations, multiple ticket complaints written, numerous dorm checks, and through that we have realized there are a number of different issues,” Stiles said.
According to Stiles, the IT Department and President Chris Hopey have talked to a number of different wireless engineers and have found that the technology used here at Merrimack provided by Meraaki Technology is “cutting edge technology.”
So when asked why there continues to be issues with the wireless service here on Merrimack’s campus Stiles had a very detailed response.
“The technology in place right now was completely adequate when it was put in place almost four years ago. After our initial year of testing the wireless service we found there were 4,300 unique wireless devices here on campus in the fall of 2012,” Stiles said. “Since then the number of unique wireless devices currently being used has almost doubled to 8,012. This massive increase has caused interference between Internet access points, which is leading to the struggle going on right now with the wireless connection across campus.”
Stiles made it clear that Merrimack was not hiding, nor running away from this issue. He also said Hopey is adamant on addressing the issue and making things right.
When asked about if there are any plans in the near future to help solve the wireless issue Stiles stated, “Before the year, we invested in a bandwidth increase and an increase of access points (the white router-like devices hanging from ceilings). After testing out our changes it is clear more must be done. We plan on doubling the amount of access points in the residence halls, especially the older buildings on campus such as Ash, Monican, and the apartments. Even with those improvements there will be more major improvements done most likely over winter break, after students are cleared out and work can be done more easily and efficiently.”
If students are looking for any sort of recommendations from the IT Department, there are a few quick things students can do that can help the wireless service here on campus. Firstly, the IT department is urging students to shut off wireless devices that are not being used, such as tablets, laptops, and especially wireless printers.
They also strongly recommend that students always plug in to an Internet jack when the situation is possible. This will guarantee faster Internet speeds.
And lastly the IT Department is recommending to simply be patient. They are working hard to address this issue and compared with other colleges they seem more willing to put in the time, and most importantly the money to solve this problem.
Although improvements have been made with more coming, it still cannot be ignored that students are struggling with this issue.
When asked how his wireless service has been so far this year, senior resident Sean Kelly stated, “Terrible. I cannot connect to Wi-Fi in my bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen. The only place I get service is on one side of my common room.”
This may seem what many people refer to as a “first-world problem,” but when students are relying on their phones to read emails and send papers it can set them back in class, and can also force them to use wireless data from their cell phone companies.
Senior resident Joe Burnham was very familiar with this position saying, “Last month I went over my data plan and was forced to pay an additional $50 on my phone bill.”
If students have any questions, complaints, or concerns about their wireless service feel free to address your issue with the It Department on the second floor of the library, or e-mail Chip Stiles if you are looking for direct and immediate help.