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IT Works to Improve Wifi

Photo Courtesy of Google Images
Photo Courtesy of Google Images

By Emily Sierra Poertner


Roanoke College is known for many things, and chief among those seems to be the terrible WiFi. Last week, Information Technology worked feverishly to get the internet working reliably again after a new bug entered the system. Students who were up in the early hours of the morning a few weekends ago noticed the internet connection go down.

Student workers immediately notified the staff at IT. They arrived on campus at two in the morning to try to fix the problem.  This time the bug that entered Roanoke’s system targeted the very program installed to prevent down time. There are two core switches, and if one goes down, the other is supposed to pick up the load. But that didn’t happen.

Unfortunately it wasn’t as easy as turning it off and on again. The system had to be restarted and IT collected logs of the problem. Working with CISCO, they were able to patch the bug late last week.

Last year there were also a lot of internet problems that were caused by a bug. Roanoke College had the bad luck to be on the front line of that new bug.

Rebecca Sandlin, Chief Information Officer in IT said, “I’d never seen these types of issues in my twenty-five years working in IT.”

RC wasn’t the only one with this issue; Radford suffered too. This particular bug was hard to identify and fix because it was inconsistent. Sometimes it would be a week between crashes, other times it would be two months.

The problems in recent years have made the full-time staff of IT very close with CISCO and Lumos.

“IT has started to be proactive instead of reactive,” Sandlin said. They’re creating redundancy and upgrading the systems so we’re better prepared for anything from software bugs to physical squirrels.

Randy Stubstad, Systems Administrator, said “I thought it was just a joke; a squirrel took us down.”

Despite what students might think, IT is trying to improve WiFi on campus. In the last three years, our bandwidth has increased ten-fold from 100 megabytes to one gigabyte, with hopes to double that to two gigabytes by the end of the summer. Also over the summer, Barry Nichols, the Network Engineer, has a project to update several aspects of the wireless. This includes changing the names of all the wireless connections to make them more intuitive, and surveying the dorms to see where the wireless is strong and weak to improve the signals.

One of the issues the staff at IT finds most frustrating is students not reporting problems. Nichols said, “There’s nothing more frustrating than pulling up Yik Yak and seeing complaints, but not having a service ticket.”

Just like Campus Safety , IT also uses Yik Yak. IT recently updated their page to make it as user friendly as humanly  possible. The quickest way to fix a problem is to report it!