By Alfred Esposito
Tabler students have one more thing to gripe about besides the long walking distances to class: the Internet. Since the beginning of the semester, students have dealt with unreliable Internet connectivity due to improper wireless setup.
Tabler SINC site attendant Shenkar Venka has been getting the brunt of student frustration, especially this past Wednesday when both resident halls and the Tabler Arts Center SINC site had no Internet access. “There is nothing we can do about it on our end, we just have to wait for client support,” Venka said.
The sign on the whiteboard on the door to the Tabler Arts Center SINC site read, “Internet is up (for now).”
Residents of Tabler Quad have been having severe problems connecting to the Internet since the start of the semester, which has been caused by the use of unauthorized use of wireless routers, according to support services.
The outages have effected most buildings in Tabler Quad as recent as Sunday afternoon when only Hand College was left mostly unaffected according to the Division of Information Technology’s website.
“It’s a dead zone,” Venka said.
According to Charlie Bowman, Director of Client Support, wireless routers give out their own IP addresses. “If you plug it in backwards it gives IP addresses to the rest of the network.” If you plug a router in backwards, it can cause network problems for the whole building said Bowman.
When a wireless router assigns an IP address to other users on the network, the switch in the building rejects this unrecognized IP address. The switch does not allow Internet access to those IP addresses assigned by the wireless router.
Some students, like Venka, who is a Student Assistant at the Tabler Arts Center, were skeptical of this excuse. “That’s what the IT people told us but that’s not a real reason in my opinion,” Venka said. Other students feel that the wireless routers are being used as a scapegoat in light of a larger problem that IT has yet to uncover.
This has been the situation in Tabler Quad since the end of November according to some. Wireless routers have been getting cheaper, which allow students to bring them from home, and giving them the added luxury of freedom from the Ethernet cable while in their dorm rooms.
To resolve the problem, Resident Assistants and Resident Hall Directors took action by checking rooms looking for unauthorized wireless routers.
Helen Cheng, an RA in Sanger College in Tabler Quad, started by putting up signs and casually informing students. “It’s not just residents that are affected, but all of us in the building are affected. That includes all the RA’s, the RHD, our office computer, which has some information we need to access online,” Cheng said.
Christal Endler, resident of Sanger, is uneasy about RA’s searching for wireless routers. “I had a couple of instances where the RA’s are knocking on our doors cause they are hunting for router and I got yelled at for room contraband.” Endler said, “It’s just an invasion of comfort for us”.
“One night when there were problems, we found 3 or 4 wireless routers plugged in incorrectly,” said Bowman.
It appears that unauthorized use of wireless routers does not have an easy solution. “As RA’s we cannot confiscate anything,” Cheng said. “All we can really do is document the residents of the room that they have a router and ask them to turn it off and unplug them.”
The Tabler Quad Office refused to comment on this story.