By Adrian Morrow
Ryerson’s wireless Internet network is difficult to connect to, cuts out and proves inconvenient for some students.
And Ken Woo, assistant director of Computing and Communications Services at Ryerson, said they’re trying to improve it.
He said service will decline when too many people are connected to a wireless access point, a transmitter that sends internet traffic to and from connected laptops.
When this happens, internet traffic slows down and connections might get dropped, he said. “If we see people trying to access it and it’s not working, we try to add access points,” Woo said.
Many factors, such as the proximity of liquid, can affect a student’s connection, he added. “Radio waves are a funny thing,” said Woo.
Which explains, he said, why a laptop sitting in a student cafeteria or lounge could lose connectivity if they move from one side of the table to another, or if there are several people in the area.
But the poor service bothers first-year information and technology management student Tom Leclair. He once lost his connection while submitting a paper to Turnitin.com.
“Sometimes if you move your laptop over a bit it changes,” said Leclair. “It’s very iffy.” Ryerson’s WiFi has been in place since 1998, accessible from several places on campus marked with blue signs.
Since the network was first established, the number of access points has risen from 20 to nearly 300, and the school plans to keep adding more.
More access points translate into better service and could allow the network to cover more of the school. Some students, like Leclair, find the service helpful, but note that it runs into problems.
“Activating it can be pretty annoying,” said Tiffany Storms, a third-year early childhood education student. She was having problems and said Ryerson’s tech support couldn’t help her. “Maybe they don’t know about Macs,” she said.
The service is also uneven and reception is better in some places than others, she said. “In the basement of the engineering building you can’t connect, even though it says it’s a wireless area,” Storms said.
Ryerson’s location in the midst of apartments and condo buildings can also hamper the wireless network if it comes into contact with the many other networks in the area, Woo said.
Marden Paul, director of Strategic Computing at the University of Toronto, said he hasn’t heard any complaints about his network. He said the U of T wireless network is designed to be consistent.
Like Ryerson, U of T’s tech support monitors the places where it’s being used highly.