What’s Up with the WiFi?

Evan Stinson (evstinson@ursinus.edu)

It’s a Sunday night. You’ve almost finished a month-long project and are ready to submit right before the 11:59 PM deadline. Canvas isn’t loading, and you realize the “Ursinus Secure” is down to one black bar of signal. Even worse, your laptop seems to drop the connection entirely. Your last few moments before submitting are a series of network musical chairs: “Registered,” then “Visitor,” and finally back to “Secure.” “Secure” connects and you press “Submit.” It’s 12:01 AM. Your assignment is late. 

     This is hypothetical, but many students relate to this issue. The college’s internet networks are desperately trying to adjust to the amount of students on campus. One junior says they, “went to the library, and I switched to ‘Secure’, then I went to Pfahler and I had to switch to register.” Another student agreed and had, “to switch between buildings.” But a former resident of Musser who now lives in North believes “The WiFi has improved since last year.”  

     Moving between buildings isn’t an ideal solution for students, especially when they are trying to finish work. James Shuttlesworth, Deputy Chief Information Officer (CIO), shed light on these ongoing issues. He wants students to keep in mind two factors: WiFi is a wave-signal and it’s a shared resource unique to Ursinus. First, wave-emitting devices such as microwaves, radios, and other wireless systems can cause disruptions to the school’s network signal. Second, the college’s network framework is not the same as a home network system; devices may not recognize or connect properly to this differing system. The sheer number of devices trying to connect on only so much bandwidth is bound to cause strain. 

     On a positive note, Main Street’s wireless network was entirely rebuilt this summer with added connection points, increased speed, and removal of chronic bugs found in the older setup. It’s unfortunate the new system is off to a bumpy start, resulting in what Shuttlesworth described as “fairly severe problems for Main Street students.” However, this upgrade is one in a string of work by the Information Technology Services to improve the school’s wireless connection. Last year, Reimert and the Floyd Lewis Bakes Center (FLB) received new hardware. In the Spring and Summer of 2022, the buildings on campus found to have bad connection speeds are slated to be upgraded as well. 

     In the meantime, Shuttlesworth advises students “to contact Tech Support when they are having issues.” Don’t hesitate to contact them directly using the number (609) 409-3789.