CTS resolves most Internet issues

By Derek Wolff | 10/19/11 11:20pm

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GVL/Amalia Heichelbech
Attempt on trying to connect to the internet on campus

by Amalia Heichelbech / Grand Valley Lanthorn

About a month ago, students were having difficulties accessing the Internet on campus, but Grand Valley State University’s Computing and Technology Support office said the Web should be relatively easy to connect to once more.

Bill Fisher, associate director of technical services for CTS, said the department has been working extensively during the last month to fix the connection problems that plagued students in the first few weeks of the fall semester. He said a combination of faulty Internet Protocol addresses and different technology on some new laptop models created some of the problems.

To fix these issues, CTS continues to add additional IP addresses to accommodate all devices, including handhelds.

“We ran into a couple of other problems; one of the big ones was the newer wireless, ones that come with the new laptops,” Fisher said. “Certain computers would have troubles when all of a sudden they would see 10 access points and didn’t quite know what to do with it. So we made some setting changes for that. We still have had a few things and a few issues we’re watching and dealing with.”

The problems that still exist are largely isolated, such as Sunday’s power outage on campus that left students without Internet access for several hours.

“There’s one problem that we’re still working on,” Fisher said. “We’ve had two cases where the system has quit validating people, where it checks your user ID. We had an outage Tuesday night that took us a while to figure out what was going on there.”

Since Tuesday, CTS has added more monitoring so its staff will receive emails within five minutes of an outage and be able to deal with it faster.

“I think all in all, things are definitely quite a bit better,” Fisher added.

Colleen Condra, a GVSU junior and resident assistant in Van Steeland living center, said a few of her 86 residents on the first floor mentioned connection problems last month, and she sent out emails telling them not to use wireless routers, an initial suspect of connection errors. Condra said although there are still times where it is difficult to connect, CTS has largely succeeded in fixing the problem.

“Recently, it’s gotten better,” she said. “I think they’re doing a good job. I think it’s improved a lot. When you get too many people on the system, there are still issues, especially at night or at times where a lot of residents are using the system, then there are connection problems, so maybe they (CTS) can allow for more usability. There are still issues, clearly, but I think it has gotten better.”

Fisher said GVSU is hoping to upgrade its connection from the current model, which is two gigabits, to a ten-gigabit model, and that most of the schools in Michigan are experiencing connection issues between 8 and 10 p.m., the same time frame as GVSU.

Fisher also said the Blackboard survey that CTS set up last month to record feedback improved connection status tremendously and helped solve individual cases.

“Without that feedback, we would have had a hard time figuring out the issues with the new computers and their wireless,” Fisher said. “We made a change to a few buildings and asked for that feedback. It’s tough for us to tell that there’s a problem without that help. Luckily, the ones that we’re fixing right now are one-of-a-kind issues. It’s definitely a lot better than it looked three weeks ago, but we’re anxious for feedback and if anyone’s is still not working, we’d like to hear about it.”

dwolff@lanthorn.com

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