SF State sets new Internet updates in motion

After receiving complaint after complaint, SF State’s IT department launched its Wi-Fi Expansion Project, a semester-long endeavor aiming to upgrade access points all over campus.

The expansion project began earlier this year, and has now completed two of its three phases. Expansion focused on upgrading current access points with up to date technology to allow for quicker connectivity and a more stable Internet experience.

“We wanted students to go first,” said Nish Malik, vice president and chief information officer of SF State’s IT services. “We want to make sure the campus has good signal and we’ll worry about the administration last.”

Phase one was finished in June and phase two is now undergoing spot testing. Phase three of the project has been put on pause while the department waits for more funding. Malik is not sure when the next phase is set to begin, but stated that the IT department would focus on other projects across campus in the meantime.

The third phase will upgrade the access points of the old and new administration buildings, the Tiburon Research Center and the Cesar Chavez Student Center. The expansion project has received its funding from the University’s salary savings, but because positions have since been filled there hasn’t been extra funds to continue the expansion.

“I think it’s actually gotten better,” said Priya Krishna-Kuma, a junior at SF State majoring in computer science. “Over the years while walking on campus the Wi-Fi wouldn’t work so I’d be running on data, but I feel like now there’s Wi-Fi around constantly.”

Malik says since the upgrade was enacted, there has been a decline in complaints to the department about Wi-Fi. Connection complications are most commonly caused by overcrowding of an access point or a rogue device, a machine that causes too much traffic on a network, inevitably clogging it, leading to various issues.

“Sometimes it doesn’t work in here (the library) though,” said Sarah Mesgun, an SF State sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering. “I’ll be doing homework and then it just stops and I’ll have to go and use a desktop. It sucks.”

The IT department says the best way for students to improve the condition of the school Internet is to report  specific locations where a problem is occurring so that they can fix it as soon as possible.

As part of a CSU initiative, SF State will also receive an upgrade to their Common Network Infrastructure. The upgrade in network infrastructure will swap all network switches from the current Cisco models to a new Alcatel model.

Though it was originally supposed to take place in October, Malik moved construction of the initiative to January 2017 in an effort to cause the least disruption to students and faculty.

“I could bring an application down and you wouldn’t know,” said Malik. “When you bring the network down everybody knows. You know everything goes down.”

Network switches are the roots of a system, so with upgraded access points paired with newer network switches, Malik expects an even greater increase in the school’s Internet power.

The process of swapping switches is set to begin in January of 2017 and last until April. Switches will be worked on at night so little disruption occurs to the network during working hours.

Map: Courtesy of SF State Student Health Center
Photo: Kayleen Fonte

This map shows hot spots and flop spots of Wi-Fi connection across campus based on student opinions collected in various building around the University. Hot spots are colored-coded with a green circle, while flop spots, or areas where Wi-Fi connectivity leaves something to be desired, are designated in red. Ambiguous locations are found in yellow, leaving the status of the connection up to the user.

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