Wireless network update leads to campus-wide connectivity problems

Wireless network updates have led to a campus-wide issue with wireless connection. Geneseo was one of many SUNY schools to update to the newest Cisco wireless network upgrade over the summer, and one of the first and largest recipients of these new transmitters, according to Computing and Information Technology Network Manager Rick Coloccia.

The previous wireless network was outdated and incompatible with newer devices that had newer software, Coloccia said.

“We couldn’t use them; you could have a laptop that could work faster than our wireless could, you could have a laptop that had security that our wireless didn’t have. So we weren’t able to provide the newest features,” he said. “We couldn’t provide service to as many clients as could show up in a room, because the previous transmitters had a limit on the number of devices that they would allow to connect.”

The wireless network upgrade was necessary to ensure the servers could accommodate the growing amount of devices in use by students and staff on campus, according to Coloccia.

“We have 50 percent more people on the wireless network now than we had in the spring semester,” Coloccia said.

As is common with the new software, there have been various problems associated with the wireless update, according to Computing and Information Technology Network Analyst Travis Kershner.

“It’s frustrating when you’re in a rush to get work done or you’re in the middle of something important and the Wi-Fi just stops working,” early childhood elementary education major freshman Melissa Maliniak said. “It’s really the last thing I want to be worrying about when I’m trying to focus on my work.”

As a result of the new software update, wireless transmitters have crashed without explanation across different locations and older devices—such as phones, scanners and game consoles—have not been able to connect, according Kershner.

“There are a few small bugs and new features that have never been implemented that aren’t working quite well. Cisco is aware of it,” Kershner said. “They have identified bugs in their code; they need to write a revised code that solves that and push it out to us.”

These issues affect students and faculty when the Wi-Fi works in one location but not another. In addition, web pages do not not load, the wireless connection is slow and devices frequently disconnect to reconnect to other transmitters for a better Wi-Fi signal, according to an email from Chief Information Officer and Director of Computing and Information Technology Susan Chichester.

“Oftentimes when I’m trying to do homework that’s online and timed or trying to study for a test with materials that can’t be downloaded the ‘server cannot be found’ message pops up and it ends up being such an inconvenience,” anthropology major sophomore Faith Chojar said. “I’ve been delayed for what ends up totaling hours just because I can’t connect to the Internet to get my work done. As someone who is really not fond of technology, it just proves to be even more frustrating.”

CIT has taken several steps to address these issues. CIT has been working since the start of the school year with Cisco to bring in new software updates to fix some of the problems. Requests and daily crash logs have been sent to the Technology Assistance Center, according to an email from Chichester.

CIT works to help students and faculty members with the issues they might have, but the process is very complicated and can take time to fix, Coloccia said.

“The reason this isn’t fixed yet is because it is a very complicated set of problems to fix. One faculty member said to me, ‘Why don’t you have an engineer on site?’ And I said, ‘Because there are seven different problems and there are teams of engineers working on every different problem,’” Coloccia said. “It’s such a huge problem that it’s not easily solvable by sending in a guy and making the problem go away.”

Meanwhile, Coloccia and Kershner advise students to update their devices with new software and to turn wireless printers and devices off when they are not being used.

“We are trying very hard, we are working nonstop with Cisco to stop these issues. We absolutely understand how big an inconvenience they are,” Coloccia said. “We absolutely understand how directly and severely this impacts research, education and personal activities. Patience is our request of the community.”