A chaotic upgrade: The switch to new WiFi

By Elizabeth Van-Pilsum, Staff Writer

Spring break is often a time to reset and refresh for the coming semester. However, students discovered that, after the WiFi had been changed on campus during break, they would need to reset and refresh their devices, too. And for some students, this WiFi switch ended up causing more trouble than expected, begging the question: Is the upgrade worth the issues?

According to Justin Fabin of Saint Vincent’s IT department, the WiFi switch was made due to ResNet’s partnership with Apogee, the new WiFi providers. Their partnership dictates that networking equipment be refreshed every five years, and because SVC’s previous refresh took place in 2017, the equipment was due for an upgrade this spring. This upgrade included support for updated secure WiFi standards, MyResnet.com - 508 Compliance for students with disabilities and more, all aimed at improving the services provided to SVC students.

However, despite the good intentions behind the new WiFi, many students have found the switch difficult. As of Mar. 10, 924 student accounts were registered with Apogee and 2,507 devices were registered (about 3 per student). Of those students, 179 struggled enough to open a support case with IT.

According to Fabin, the IT department currently has “six open tickets undergoing root-cause analysis via Apogee’s support engineering team to determine why the devices are having issues.” Out of these six open tickets, five are for gaming consoles and one is for a laptop. However, Fabin is confident these problems can be solved and that students do not have to worry about continued issues with the WiFi.

While the IT department is very satisfied with the new updates to the equipment, not all students would say the same. Julia Wise, junior English major, struggled greatly with her WiFi.

“No matter what I did, I couldn’t get my phone to properly connect, so I was using my data for about three days. Inconveniently, any apps using my school account just refused to function without the WiFi, and I had homework assignments that I needed to submit. I couldn’t [submit them] in the dorms, but [I] was able to on the regular Saint Vincent WiFi,” Wise said.

Wise also experienced issues receiving emails due to the WiFi.

She was ultimately able to connect her devices successfully, but Wise had to go through the setting-up process twice before her laptop would remain connected. Currently, Wise needs to manually reconnect her devices to WiFi every time she has been away from her room for a while. Due to her stressful experience, Wise described the switch as “a lot more hassle than help so far.”

The main issue with the new WiFi appears to be that a great number of students must manually reconnect their devices to WiFi every time they enter a new building. However, due to the college’s expanding partnership with Apogee, students will only have one WiFi network that will span over the entirety of campus as soon as summer 2022, meaning students will no longer have to connect to different networks depending on if they are in their dorm or another building. Though this update should greatly improve the students’ experiences with the WiFi, it does not help with the difficulties students are experiencing this semester; however, it does provide some hope for next year.

Overall, Fabin firmly believes the upgrade was needed and that all problems students are currently having should be resolved shortly.

"Through our partnership with Apogee, we believe it is worthwhile to provide these scheduled technology refreshes to the students ensuring new, state-of-the-art networking equipment along with the continual improvement of services,” Fabin said.

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