Wifi expected to improve

by Mikaleh Offerman, News Editor

It is a college truth that a student without access to reliable wifi has trouble studying, completing homework and streaming Netflix.

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Alena Blakely / The Bison

Over the summer, OBU switched from using an outside company to provide access to wifi on campus, and began managing the wifi from campus. The company, Apogee, more commonly recognized as ResNet by students, took care of the technical and administrative tasks that come with providing wifi and internet to over two-thousand people.

“Most of the time, I have a hard time loading my emails…[and] downloading documents,” Abby Bennett, a Howard Apartment resident said.

“I end up using a lot of my data when I really wish I could have wifi that works consistently… it makes it hard even to watch Netflix or load anything on my phone.”

Apogee’s website claims that their “updated solutions further reduces manpower required by campus IT staff to address compliance, security, support and network monitoring [freeing up] IT to work on infrastructure improvements and additional institutional goals.”

After five years of paying Apogee to manage the task, OBU decided that it would be more cost effective and beneficial to the university to provide its own internet.

“When the contract came up for renewal, we believed we had improved our overall infrastructure to the level of being able to compete with what Apogee provided,” Assistant VP for Information Systems Gary Nickerson said. “So, we proposed bringing the residential wireless network back under our management to save money and to increase bandwidth.”

Although many students have experienced internet speeds that are poor compared to past years, they may not have to wait long for the internet on campus to speed up.

“We are currently completing the last phases of improving the bandwidth and should be able to make this increased capacity available to students in the next few weeks,” Nickerson said.

Unfortunately, the necessary equipment for installing the wireless network was late coming in, which was the biggest challenge in the installation process. Despite this, all facilities had access to wifi by Aug. 15.

“Once the firewall is configured and tested, we will be able to increase the overall bandwidth available for each student,” Nickerson said. “In the past, we contracted with Apogee for the amount of bandwidth we could afford for each student who connected. Now we have the ability to increase the bandwidth without additional overall cost.”

Because of the lower costs, OBU was able to hire a network administrator to manage and monitor the network.

“We do not have network staff who can monitor twenty-four hours per day, but we do have local staff who can respond quicker when an issue does occur,” Nickerson said.

The infamous “OBUStudent” wifi-network is not the final product of the new wireless network.

“The primary changes that are still coming have to do with how you will connect to the wireless network,” Nickerson said. “Once we are finished, a new wireless signal will be visible and students will connect using their email login and password to get access to the wireless and wired network.”

Students can expect to be notified a week in advance before the changes in accessing wifi will happen. After that, students can say good-bye to the sluggish network connections they have experienced with the current “OBUStudent” network.

“If they can figure out a way to deliver reliable and consistent internet service, that would make homework and what-not a lot easier, and I wouldn’t have to worry about it not working,” Bennett said.

The HelpDesk and Information Systems ask that student be patient as they resolve and improve the current wifi situation.

“We are working with our vendor to isolate and identify the cause for the speed issues that students are seeing,” Nickerson said. “This issue should be resolved very soon. [In the end,] I believe you’ll be pleased with the results.”

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