What’s going on this week
After last week we have talked with our WiFi vendor about the fixes that Gustavus did. They pretty much agreed with the approach. The first thing to do, much like with your computer, is update our WiFi software. So that’s our first step.
During the Zoom call the vendor looked at our overall WiFi connection status and saw many more slower (2.4 GHz) connections then they expected to see. To see why that matters look at last week’s post in the technical section. Most every device should be connecting at the faster 5 GHz frequency. This is a symptom of the problem we’re trying to fix.
This week we’re starting our first round of updates. On Wednesday at 5AM we updated the WiFi software in OGC and Hagfors and adjusted some WiFi settings recommended by the vendor.
What’s planned for next week
Next week we continue WiFi software updates at 5AM on Monday with the remaining dorms.
Will these changes fix every WiFi problem?
The short answer is “no.” Some problems are due to old software or drivers on a laptop or other issues particular to the situation. But the systematic trend we’re trying to stop, devices (especially Apple devices) connecting to a distant slower wireless, should be improved by these changes based on what information we have from Gustavus, IT email lists, and our WiFi vendor.
We’ve started to get some good data from students who have used our WiFi reporting form. Thank you for taking the time to fill it out. Please keep using it as it will help us determine if the dorm updates have made a difference.
Day Student Government visit: 10/7/20
On Wednesday 10/7/20 Augsburg Day Student Government invited Scott Krajewski, CIO, to talk about the WiFi issues students are experiencing on campus. The senators had many good questions and shared experiences with Zoom disconnects and connection quality problems.
Scott shared this list of questions to help the Tech Desk troubleshoot student WiFi issues.
IT has created this WiFi problem reporting form based on the above questions for students to fill out. The Tech Desk will use this info to better troubleshoot and inform our solutions.
In the past week Augsburg IT has began researching the WiFi issues with other schools. Several other schools across the country are reporting similar Zoom issues with their campus WiFi. There are several theories as to the cause and related solutions. In particular, Gustavus Adolphus College in St Peter, MN experienced the same problems this summer. Augsburg IT met for an hour with Gustavus IT to review their experiences and their solutions. IT is now working with our WiFi vendor to verify the suggestions from Gustavus before changing our WiFi settings.
Technical Notes (for those who are interested)
Several schools hypothesize this has been a problem for a long time however we never noticed it before now. Using Zoom requires a constant connection whereas web browsing or streaming recorded video does not need a constant connection.
The working theory, as of today, is that Apple devices (computers and phones and tablets) are jumping to slower and more distant wireless connections. The WiFi network is actually two networks – one running at 2.4GHz and one running at 5GHz. The 2.4GHz network is slower and is there for older devices that don’t support the faster 5GHz network. Apple devices are ignoring a close 5GHz connection and instead are trying to connect to a further away (and poorer) 2.4GHz connection. And they are actively doing this during a Zoom session.
Since we have little data from our students at the moment we can’t be sure this is what is happening. However the anecdotes sound very similar what other schools are saying.