Wireless Internet has strings attached

As Spring Semester gets into full swing, the torrent (no pun intended) of collegiate Internet use has begun anew. We, as college students, along with staff and faculty, rely heavily on the Internet. But, as some of you may have noticed, Linfield’s free Wi-Fi Internet has not been so reliable as of late.
In just the first week of school, there have been multiple accounts of students having problems with connections, using Clean Access Agent, checking e-mails, dealing with low speeds, finding a wireless signal and using Linfield Web pages.
You might recall the myriad of e-mails sent by Integrated Technology Services during the past two months explaining problems or delays in service from faulty equipment, server problems or otherwise. While we know ITS does its best to fix problems and let us know what is going on, it would be nice to have some more advanced awareness of problems.
As Chief Technology Officer Irv Wiswall describes in his e-mails, ITS workers certainly go out of their way to keep the Internet running smoothly. While we applaud ITS’ efforts to keep its finger in the dike, perhaps it’s time to fix the dike itself.
“When ever funds permit, ITS does what it can to increase redundancy and increase stability,” Wiswall said in an e-mail explaining past problems with cooling the server room. “Installing a redundant cooling system has both space and financial hurdles, but we’re examining possible solutions.”
If ITS does not have the money to maintain and/or increase stability, then we need more money going to ITS. As reliable Internet on campus proves to be more and more of a necessity, Linfield, in turn, must give ITS a higher priority on the college’s budget.
We recall an increase in bandwidth made last fall that was supposed to increase Internet speed. That boost certainly didn’t last long.
What happened? Was the bandwidth not utilized effectively? Was it immediately consumed by excessive illegal downloads on campus? What about legal downloads? Are the gamers eating it up? Is faculty given priority use of bandwidth?
Nobody wants to play the blame game (especially in the case of illegal file-sharing), but we need to figure out why adding more bandwidth somehow leads to a speed decrease.
The policies of ITS, as outlined on its Web page, maintain a distinction between primary and secondary uses of its services. Primary uses would be educational or in line with the scholarly nature of the school. Anything else is considered secondary.
“As such, they are not necessarily prohibited or even discouraged,” the policy statement said. “However, should such secondary activities in any way interfere with primary activities, they may be terminated immediately whether or not such activities are explicitly detailed in the information technology policy statements.”
If secondary uses are consuming the school’s extra bandwidth, though we’re not saying they are, then perhaps necessary action should be taken. While it is not the Review’s responsibility to make such decisions, we do feel that these issues must be addressed and debated so the school can reach a solution.
Linfield advertises itself as a school that offers free
Wi-Fi. Thus, it is unacceptable, and almost misleading, to have unreliable or unstable Internet capabilities. More and more professors use the Internet to aid teaching classes. They now often use resources such as the Blackboard Learning System, eReserve readings from Nicholson Library and e-mail.
In addition to professors, clubs and other student organizations use the Internet to help with planning and information sharing. The Review would not be the well-oiled machine it is without e-mail.
Given the importance we all place on Internet access, it should be a top priority of the campus. We think everyone on campus needs to be more aware of potential problems with Internet access, and we need to know what the school is doing about said problems, whether it be budget changes, network changes or otherwise.
The Review will do its best to find the facts affecting any Internet problems, but it is up to the school to deal with the facts.

-The Review Editorial Board

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