Proposal for better wireless reception in class underway

Ongoing complaints have motivated the Office of Information Technology (OIT) to address wireless internet issues across campus, especially in classrooms. In high-traffic areas such as Skiles and the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons (CULC), students often experience slow and spotty wireless connections.

As a result, OIT has submitted a Tech Fee Proposal to modify their existing access points to focus the wireless signals onto certain spots in the classroom, thus lowering co-channel interference. The submitted proposal would improve wireless speeds for students in the CULC and lower the chance of connectivity issues.

OIT installed six wireless access points in each CULC lecture hall when they constructed the building. These access points were intended to serve the large populations in the classroom.

Matt Sanders, Associate Director and co-founder of the Georgia Tech Research Network Operations Center, explained that when most students in a lecture hall use internet-enabled devices, the probability of connectivity issues is inevitable.

“You can imagine, that’s a lot of devices…But it’s probably going to be more than that, because many people have phones, or iPads, or other Wi-Fi devices. It’s especially a challenge when so many people are trying to use their devices in such a small space,” Sanders said.

“[My connection] starts off by becoming slower, then I lose bars, and then it’s just gone,” said first-year INTA major Carlos Ramirez.

“Getting work done in the CULC can be a hassle sometimes, because your internet can die at any point in time,” said second-year CHBE major Aditya Raghuram.

Sanders also noted that OIT would be able to make wireless internet support better by providing more comprehensive and frequent feedback.

“We don’t get a lot of good feedback,” Sanders said. “People just think that we know what their experience is like. They may say, ‘Oh, the internet dropped.’ That can happen on a lot of different levels. Since we came up with the debug tool, about 45 to 50 percent of the people who came to us have been able to solve their problems.”

The debug page, www.lawn.gatech.edu/debug/, can be used by students in order to solve a wide range of internet issues. Many of these issues, Sanders explained, were due to improper configurations on individual devices.