By: Matthew Montgomery (Whetstone Contributor)

To the Editor:

It is very rare that I respond to things posted in the Whetstone articles but this one really got to me.

On page 4 in the last Whetstone, (Early February 2012), in an article about the SGA, it talked about the new project to put Wi-Fi in all 6 resident halls.  A student said, “Internet in the dorm rooms is slow and sometimes doesn’t even work.”  Another student said that “with routers, we can get things done more efficiently instead of having to go to the library.”

What the students don’t realize or understand is, while they think the wireless routers are part of the solution, they are actually part of the problem.  At the very simplest definition, a router takes a single connection and divides it into multiple connections, some being wired and some wireless.

Let’s say that the single connection available to the room is 45Kbps.  One person getting that 45K is going to have an enjoyable online experience.  With a wireless router, it takes that 45K and splits it up into smaller chunks.  This is the real world scenario on campus; a student will have a wireless router and not only give the password to their roommate.  They give it to the room across the hall and others nearby to “share the wealth.”

Before you know it you have 5 or more people sharing the same wireless router.  In doing so those 5 people on that 45K connection is now degraded into a measly 9Kbps a piece, depending on what they are doing of course.  This makes the Internet seem very slow or like it isn’t working at all.

Another issue is with “rogue” wireless routers.  These are routers that have not been seen by IT to have them set-up correctly.  Some of them are wide-open access so anyone can use them.  Others do have a password on them but are still configured incorrectly in such a way that it hands our IP addresses to people connected to it and the router can’t provide them access because it is setup wrong.  So not only does that 1 person not have Internet, neither do any of the people connected to that router.

It could be said that students have become part of the problem because they are not educated on the technology and how it works. They are really hurting themselves and their online experience on campus.

As I said in the beginning of this, it is very easy to blame IT that the Internet doesn’t work or it is slow without ever bothering to ask why.  And once they are told why, many of them still don’t listen.  All we can do is be a support resource for the students and help where we can, and we will continue to do that.

The campus wireless project is a huge and fantastic project that is coming very soon to the resident halls.  Currently the college has no policy that students cannot bring routers to campus in their dorm rooms because we are unable to supply wireless in them at this time.  But once the campus-wide wireless project is complete, the policy will be written to prohibit them because they do cause problems on the network.

I hope this information is well received and may be used to educate the student body as well as others on the SGA committee.


Thank you,

Matthew Montgomery
Network and Systems Administrator