Increased Demand for College WiFi – But at What Cost?

by Vadim Belogorodsky

As an Electrical Engineering major, Carl Straumshein’s “Device Explosion” caught my eye.  Straumshein details the challenges many university Chief Information Officers (CIO) face when analyzing their wifi systems. Many deal with the same problem: Disappointment voiced by students over the quality of the wifi systems on campus. The article states that many students are spoiled at home with near-perfect wifi systems and expect the same when they move to college. Though the concept of increasing coverage may seem simple, the topic becomes a hot button when budgets and resources become involved.

In the past decade with the invention of smart phones, more affordable laptops, and internet based gaming systems the article mentions on average each student brings 2.5 wifi capable devices. Each professor brings about 2 devices on average. So looking at this data, one might suggest, “Hey just add more routers” and the problem with slow unreliable coverage will disappear. The problem really is the fact that people don’t realize there is a constant amount of bandwidth available for all the devices on campus and as more devices use a portion up, the quality of the system decreases.

Less money is being allocated for technical services such as wifi as universities tighten budgets. So the problem becomes a balance of how much to spend on a system most certainly everyone uses or whether to allocate the money to another project and deal with poor wifi reception.Colleges these days cannot afford to replace full systems and simply spend their budgets on repairing aged equipment. One college spent their budget on replacing old systems which allows for better quality of wifi by modernizing the equipment and severely lowering maintenance costs hoping that this will pay off in the long run. At a time when people are wondering whether college is too expensive or even worth it, little things such as wifi systems make the differences

With the advance of affordable tablets, experts expect the number of wifi devices to jump on campus causing future debate on what path to take with current systems at various universities. Even around Widener’s campus, complaints about the wifi are heard daily. Who knows what will happen in the future.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s