Diagnosing the problem

Diagnosing the problem

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internet graphicThough the sometimes spotty Internet suggests otherwise, the internet service has only steadily improved since 2010.

Robert Paulson, chief information officer of iTech at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, said the bandwidth has increased to 550 megabits a second, up from 425 Mb/s last year and 300 Mb/s the year before.

“In 2011, we increased the bandwidth. It had been 100 Mb/s and was limited by some of the appliances we had. We replaced those and the next year, it was 300 Mb/s. Now, it’s about 550,” Paulson said.

Still, an increased bandwidth means nothing if the networking cannot handle it. This is especially true in the dorms, said Lonnie Nagel, associate chief information officer.

“One of the problems with the dorms is having the wireless access points out in the halls. It’s hard for signal to penetrate the walls, whereas in Mesquite, it’s right inside your suites. That’s a big difference for Mesquite versus the other dorms,” Nagel said.

But iTech is in the process of proposing a plan to upgrade the dorm networking. Paulson and Nagel met with the administration last week, but they haven’t heard back from them yet.

“We request it, the administration sees what they can allocate. So far, they’ve helped quite a bit. They’ve helped with most of it (around campus),” Paulson said.

Several buildings have had their equipment upgraded to better take advantage of the higher bandwidth, including the College of Business, Sam Fore Hall, the Jernigan Library, and the College of Engineering.

But another explanation for the slower Internet is that the wireless bandwidth is shared between all students using the access point, which averages 20 to 25 students, Nagel said.

“Wireless is always going to be slower than if you’re directly connected…you’re sharing that bandwidth whereas Ethernet is directly to you,” Paulson said.

And for a few years now, there has been a bandwidth cap on students so that they can’t take up more of the bandwidth than other students.

In addition, the Internet service will also always put academic needs over entertainment needs, which means it’s a constant juggling act to meet the needs of the university and the students, Nagel said.

“We have to shape traffic to make sure that things that need to happen, happen. It’s primarily an academic network. Nobody wants to hear that, but we have to run a university,” Nagel said. “The shaping of our priorities is different during the day than at night or on weekends. As soon as the daily usage is tapered off, the bandwidth is freed up.”

If students ever have difficulties with the Internet, they need to contact iTech, through javNET or calling ext. 4357, otherwise there’s no way for them to ever know there’s a problem, Nagel said.

Frank Garza