Slow wifi speed has been an issue for UCC students and staff. According to Stephouse, a business that specializes in creating wireless networks, the average speed in the U.S. is around 11 and one-half mbps (megabits per second).A free online internet speed test provided by Ookla last week showed that the download speed on UCC’s guest network was around three mbps, almost as slow as dsl (digital subscriber line).
Students and faculty are asking why it is so slow. Kathy Thomason, a network administrator for UCC, says that the UCC guest wifi network is purposely throttled (slowing down a network’s bandwidth to prevent bandwidth hogging). Thomason also confirmed that UCC is in the process of buying new firewalls due to the current five year old firewalls limiting the guest network’s speed to 450 mbps.
She also confirmed that UCC will be purchasing new Ruckus brand access points (devices that allow wireless devices to be able to connect to wired networks). These new access points will use mesh technology that “automatically allocates (bandwidth) depending on the number of devices connected”, Thomason said.
Thomason estimated that the entire cost of UCC’s upgraded network will be over $100,000 and continued to say it will be in effect by this upcoming summer term.
While students wait for the upgraded network, questions still remain as to why the guest network is so slow. According to Securedge Networks, a company that designs wifi networks for multiple schools, there are five common reasons for a school’s wifi network being slow.
First, networks can be slow due to roaming issues. While students go through different parts of campus, their devices can have issues connecting from one access point to another. Securedge stated that “the physical environment, the types of devices being used, the types of applications being used and who the end-users are” are the four important factors affecting roaming.
Another reason for poor internet speeds can be an outdated design. If schools do not update their routers and modems for several years, the network speed on wireless devices can be very slow.
Some wifi networks can slow down due a failure to optimize with mobile devices such as smartphones and laptops. Could this possibly be why many students just use their mobile data at school?
Also, some wifi networks can possibly have too little or too many access points (APs).“ Deploy too many APs and you can cause too much interference, too few and you don’t have enough coverage,” Securedge stated.
Many wifi networks can have unsatisfactory speeds due to devices not being compatible with a school’s network. “Every device has different capabilities and different requirements to work properly,” Securedge stated.