As complaints regarding campus Wi-Fi coverage continuously accumulate, the Information Technology (IT) team is working efficiently to provide network to as many places on campus as possible.
Francine Neiling, FSC’s Cheif Information Officer, has been with the school for the past twenty-eight years. Under Vice President of Finance and Administration, Terry Dennis, she works with the IT team to preemptively replace existing equipment and provide updated services, creating a stronger connection around campus.
“Our whole goal as not only the IT department, but the college in general, is to continue to make those improvements and find places where we can add that redundancy and that streamlined experience for our students,” Neiling said.
Although few students are aware, the campus is heavily covered by two leading network providers, Spectrum and Frontier, as well as smart equipment to provide the network with the most reliable performance possible. Additionally, the IT team is composed of highly trained professionals whose job is to provide strong Wi-Fi coverage to the entirety of campus.
Last November, the IT team responded to an issue when a crucial piece of equipment, called a firewall, gave out prematurely. The team swiftly responded, choosing to replace the missing equipment during a time when far fewer students would be affected by a lack of Wi-Fi: Thanksgiving Break.
Instead of simply replacing the old equipment with identical equipment, they added more technologically advanced equipment: an SD-WAN monitor, which automatically switches between services in the event that one of them fails.
“If students are struggling, please put in tickets,” Neiling said. “We have a lot of different monitors for our network. They can only tell us so much. It doesn’t give us the end user experience.”
Before improvements can be made, the IT team needs the help of students to identify the most outstanding issues with the network. The “tickets” Neiling referred to can be submitted through the student Portal or the FSC website using the same form that residential students use to submit a work order. This gives the IT team insights into the user experience that they are unable to otherwise observe without violating students’ electronic privacy.
Another way to help the IT department improve the Wi-Fi is by directly visiting the Rinker Technology Center, located between Wynee’s Bistro and the Campus Safety Office, when technological errors arise. Neiling spoke very highly of the team of technical troubleshooters who work at the center, applauding their willingness to assist students with a variety of technical problems from password changes to personal computer issues.
Allowing these workers to troubleshoot problems in-person allows the IT department to gain valuable insights regarding dilemmas that they would otherwise be unaware of.
As these problems are slowly being addressed, Neiling recommends that students look to newer buildings on campus for the best Wi-Fi. Because many of FSC’s historical buildings were built in a time before Wi-Fi was accessible, setting up strong connections without adapting the structures is difficult and time-consuming. Neiling recommends study spots such as the Christoverson lobby, the Rogers Building, the Snake Pit and of course the Rinker Technology Center.
Moving forward, Neiling plans to continue improving the network issues until “everybody can have anything they want.” Currently, they are working to strengthen connections on older campus buildings such as Edge Hall, Roux Library, Branscomb Auditorium and Polk Science, as well as near several outdoor locations such as Mr. George’s Green.
Eventually, Neiling hopes to receive approval to add separate networks in each residential hall the way they did in the apartment complexes. Improving campus Wi-Fi is a gradual process, but Neiling’s team is willing to do everything in their power to improve Wi-Fi campus-wide.