Imagine opening your laptop to do homework however you cannot complete assignments because the wi-fi isn’t working. Or you’re headed to class but the teacher cannot access the internet to pull up the powerpoint slides for notes.
Those were two examples students provided as issues that they face each day. Last semester Grambling State University President Dr. Rick Gallot said the campus-wide wi-fi speed would be increased in spring semester 2019.
However, that wi-fi upgrade has been pushed back and is now expected in the fall 2019 semester.
“It just takes time especially when your doing something this big,” Gallot said. “It’s not like going in and just installing a new router at your home. The first thing we need to do is make sure the new wi-fi will address the current need.”
The process involves a operational expansion. The university will need to contract with a third party company to manage the wi-fi. This company will be responsible for keeping everything up to date with all of the technology. The service will include 24 hour customer service.
Gallot said that the process will be extensive because the university does not want to just address the demand for today, but hopefully for “years to come”.
“I can’t just call a high tech computer technician and ask them to upgrade our wi-fi,” Gallot said. “The first thing is it has to access the current demand. It’s necessary to look at the potential future growth and building from there.”
The wi-fi was previously upgraded a few years ago using a capex model process.
“A few years ago we ran into some wi-fi issues that were addressed,” Gallot said. “We used a capex model process to fix the issue. That is where you go and buy routers and actual hardware. Those things become obsolete as technology changes and demand increases.”
Gallot said that the improvements will be “unbelievably enhanced”.
“When students return in the fall it is guaranteed the wi-fi will be working much better. Everything will be finished,” Gallot said.
Students, however, are still concerned the wi-fi issue will not be fixed by the new expected time frame.
Sydney Linzy, a sophomore nursing major from Vicksbburg, Miss., said the wi-fi problems prohibit her from having her “best college experience.”
“The wi-fi is just trash,” Linzy said. “I pay to come to school and I want my best experience. I should be able to sit anywhere on campus and be able work on assignments and homework. I can barely connect to enough wi-fi in my dorm room. At this point it is ridiculous. Last semester students were told the wi-fi would be fixed by spring 2019 and now it’s pushed back again to the fall.”
The wi-fi contract will cost at least $50,000, but Gallot said that there is currently no exact cost.
“The approach were taking this time is to stay current,” Gallot said. “I think it’ll be a better investment this time around. I don’t think it would be accurate to just throw IT under the bus. When you do something big, it takes time. Any contract above $50,000 must be bidded out.”
SGA President Adarian Williams said the IT department has been working “diligently” to ensure wi-fi upgrades.
“It is expected that most of the ground work will take place over the summer,” Williams said. “We appreciate the work of our Administration and student leaders for continuing to advocate for the needs of the students, who are the university’s most valuable asset.”
Sophomore Dariell Herron, a mass communication major from Platte City, Mo.. said that she is “ fed up and tired of the excuses.”
“The wi-fi has actually gotten worse,” Herron said. “The amount of rage that I get about this topic is so uncomfortable. Wi-fi should be a priority especially on a college campus. I’m tired of the continuous excuses. I am tired of using my own personal hotspot data in less than two weeks.”
Many students have speculated that each building and dorm will have its own wi-fi. Gallot did not confirm this speculation.
“I don’t know exactly if each building will have its own wi-fi but we are working to definitely have a residential side,” Gallot said.
“Our team is working very hard to fix this problem.”