Internet concerns still present at Laurier

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The quality of Wilfrid Laurier University’s wireless internet has been subject to criticism over the years by the student population. Students have experienced everything from barely-functional speeds to not being able to connect at all.

In response to the widespread dissatisfaction, Laurier’s Information Technology Services (ITS) made significant investments in the wireless system in the last 18 months.

“We’ve been using a completely different device; the solution we have now will handle more connections, connections over longer distances, and higher capacity,” explained Tom Buckley, assistant vice president of academic services.

Buckley said there should be especially better coverage in specific classrooms, by educational needs, and large congregating areas such as the Concourse, the Science Atrium and the library.

“I definitely noticed the speed improvement last year,” agreed Kenneth Leung, a fourth-year business student.

“But I feel like the network is slowing down because everybody has smartphones now and they always connect to networks.”

Buckley acknowledged this claim. The growing number of wireless devices has indeed been an added weight to the wireless system.

The simple solution would seem to be to invest enough money to make wireless better all around Laurier, but Buckley noted that there are restrictions and set priorities in the improvement of wireless.

“We do not do blanket coverage of the entire university. It would mean an increase of hundreds of dollars per year in the fees [students are] paying,” he stated.

This would include hundreds of dollars that some students would find excessive and not be willing to pay.

“I could just go home and use my Internet,and you already pay quite a bit for tuition in hopes that there would be satisfactory Internet,” said Brianna Cowling, a fourth-year kinesiology student.

Buckley went on to stress that educational needs were the most important to address with social and extra-curricular needs only being secondary.

He added that such non-academic activities are actually one of the biggest contributors in slowing down the wireless system and is not the kind of service Laurier intends to supply.

“If you believe that you should be able to run BitTorrent on five connections, YouTube on three and have ultra high-speed wherever you go on campus, that’s not what we’re trying to accomplish,” said Buckley.

At this point, nothing is done to prevent or deter heavy Internet usage by individuals, but this could potentially change in the future if necessary.

Wireless traffic could technically be strictly prioritized, shaped and throttled.

This would mean that when the wireless network detected heavy usage, it could slow down your wireless to speed up others, but for now, the heavy users are left alone.

Wireless access is clearly an important resource for today’s students, but there are many intricacies that must be carefully factored in.

“Our goal cannot be 100 per cent satisfaction because we don’t want to use your tuition dollars for somebody else’s social activity online, it’s going to be a balance,” stated Buckley.

He concluded by encouraging students to voice their concerns and demands as necessary.

“We want to ensure we find out and continue to have the dialogue around what’s important. The channel is always open through the student support desk.”

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