Students are using more technology than ever and expect a wireless connection that can withstand the demand of their devices.
Ryan Burton, Director of IT Planning and Client Services with Information and Technology Services, said a number of changes have been implemented recently to improve Humber’s WiFi network.
Burton said these changes include adding capacity to the network to handle more concurrent connections at the same time and adding more wireless access points.
“People are coming now with a smartphone, a tablet, and a laptop,” he said. “We’ve gone more with a density model to ensure that there is sufficient coverage,” Burton said.
“Last year, we had up to 45,000 unique devices connected to the WiFi network each week,” Burton said.
“On a typical weekday we have up to 9,000 devices connected.”
He said there were only 50 wireless access points around campus 10 years ago, which are antennas that send out wireless signals to devices nearby to get Internet access.
Burton said there will be around 1,200 wireless access points across campus this year.
Apparently this isn’t enough.
Taylor Erdie, a first-year Event Planning student, said her WiFi connection on campus is okay, but residence is a different story.
“It’s really slow. You don’t get it in a lot of places in residence,” Erdie said.
Erdie said she can connect to the WiFi in her room because she is right across from the lounge.
“I find that definitely when you go further down the hall and you’re in other people’s rooms you don’t get the Wifi as good, so I end up having to use my own data if I want to go on the internet because I can’t go on the school’s WiFi,” she said.
“When I’ve had problems trying to connect I give up and get frustrated and just throw my Ethernet cable in,” Erdie said.
Erdie said she had to purchase a plan with Rogers so that she could have stronger WiFi connection within her room.
Burton said residence is connected to the same Humber WiFi network but only in common areas, not in individual rooms yet.
“There’s a desire on residence’s behalf to expand WiFi coverage and they are currently looking at how they might choose to fund that going forward,” he said.
Burton said he understands why students would want wireless coverage in their individual rooms but it’s the residence’s decision about whether this will happen.
Richard Harknett, a second-year Heating and Air Conditioning student who also works for the IT Department, said he uses the WiFi network to connect his tablet, laptop, phone, and gaming devices, usually without issue.
“There’s a weak connection in the L-Building,” he said. “But other than that I haven’t had any issues.”
Burton said there is an e-form on the IT Support Centre website for students to report a “dead-zone” on campus where a stronger signal may be needed.
Students looking to connect to the network while waiting for their bus to show up may have to wait a little longer.
Burton said the IT department has considered putting wireless access points outside but right now there isn’t funding for it because it is not a priority at this moment, although that may change.
Erdie said she’s lucky if she gets the WiFi connection while outside and often has to use the data on her phone to connect to the Internet.
“I think it would be beneficial if they did have a stronger connection out there so people could maybe check bus schedule times while they’re waiting,” Erdie said.
Harknett said he has also had issues with a weak connection while outside, although it is not a huge issue for him.
“Internet outside doesn’t concern me at all, actually,” Harknett said. “I’m sure it would concern some people who care to have something like that, so maybe that would be a flaw, but doesn’t bother me,” he said.
“I don’t think we will get to a point where we say ‘done’,” Burton said. “It will get to a point where I think it will stabilize and then we’ll be looking at what’s next for the network in order to make sure that we’re servicing the needs of the students,” he said.