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UGA Plans to Upgrade Wi-Fi Network in Residence Halls

By Kalah Mingo

Dameco Young, a first year Theatre and Communications major from West Point, GA, sat down in his Russell Hall dorm room to take his weekly psychology quiz. He completed the readings and felt prepared. He logged into E-Learning Commons (eLC) and used his one attempt to take the timed quiz. Once satisfied with his answers and with a few minutes to spare, he selected submit. Young was expecting the usual “quiz successfully submitted” page to load, but wasn’t shocked when the error message “webpage unavailable” came up instead.

Paws-Secure had gone out again, invalidating his one attempt for the quiz and causing him to receive a failing grade, which could only be resolved after emailing his professor several times. This wasn’t the first time Paws-Secure failed Young and other students at the University of Georgia.

 


Many have dubbed it “Paws-Insecure” because of its lack of stability.


Young turned in an essay through ELC and Paws-Secure went out after he submitted it. The next day he realized he didn’t get a confirmation email and knew that his essay hadn’t submitted properly because of the Wi-Fi outage.

“I had to beg my professor to let me re-submit it,” Young said.

Fortunately, the University of Georgia plans to upgrade the Wi-Fi network in all of their residence halls to make Paws-Secure faster and able to support more devices. Paws-Secure has been the primary Wi-Fi option on UGA’s campus since Vice President for Information Technology Timothy Chester came to UGA in September 2011. However, Paws-Secure has posed several connectivity issues for students. Many have dubbed it “Paws-Insecure” because of its lack of stability.

“We knew that there were problems in the dorms based on anecdotal feedback, but we didn’t know how pervasive the problems were,” Chester said.

The Enterprise and Information Technology Services (EITS) recognized this problem. They sent out a survey to students in University Housing about PAWS-Secure to determine the next steps in improving the wireless service in residence halls. Almost 40 percent of residents in University Housing responded to the survey. Chester received over 3,000 survey responses.

The survey revealed that residents in Russell Hall, a freshman dorm, consistently had the most problems accessing the wireless service. In response, EITS chose the residence hall as a pilot for an upgraded wireless network with increased speed and capability. Over spring break, EITS installed almost 300 wireless access points throughout Russell Hall.

“Paws-Secure is extremely fast now. It’s faster than the ethernet,” Young said.

EITS plans on installing this new AC wireless network in all of the University Housing dorms over the next 12 months.The current wireless network in the rest of UGA’s dorms runs on a weaker B or G network. AC wireless networks have stronger signal strength, making it ideal for highly populated living areas like dorms.

Senior Public Relations Coordinator Kerri Testament said EITS sent Russell Hall residents a second survey to get students’ feedback on the upgraded wireless network. The residents’ feedback will help EITS evaluate the effectiveness of their plan to expand the new AC wireless network.

This project is funded by the $114 Student Technology Fee that UGA students must pay each fall and spring semester.

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