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Without Wifi

Savanah Seyer, Contributor

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Last week on Sept. 11, SLU students walked into class, turned on their laptops and found themselves without the trusty wireless internet connection that fuels pretty much every aspect of our social and academic lives.

“It was super inconvenient,” said business student Alexandria Gossman, “especially when the professors expected us to get everything done in the same amount of time.”

The wireless outage left most of North campus without wireless internet, including most residence halls, the library and most classrooms. The outage lasted three days, leaving students and teachers scrambling to adjust assignments and lessons. As students received email after email from ITS saying that the problem had not been resolved, most everyone had the same questions on their mind: What happened and why is it so hard to fix?

Megan Gause, the Student Tech Services Center Manager at SLU, said that the problem was a large and potentially expensive one.

“We had the wireless distribution switch (commonly referred to as a distro) go down. This is a core switch that contains several different components; in this case, the distro for the wireless system acts like the bridge from our wired fiber connection to all the little access points throughout campus,” said Gause.

Gause said that the one piece that failed alone could have costed the University close to $100,000 but didn’t, thanks to a service agreement with the tech companies that supply SLU.

The SLU wireless internet system is a complex piece of technology, requiring many connections and service ports around campus to keep all SLU students connected. We can’t always see the pieces of equipment supplying us with access to the World Wide Web, but as Gause describes, the routers are everywhere.

“On every floor, you will see little access points. Those are hardwired back to a network closet on that floor or in that building. Some buildings are small enough to have one closet, while some buildings (Gries for instance) have a closet for nearly every floor.” said Gause.

“In those network closets, there are racks of network switches, some are for the wireless and some are for the wired connection. Those network switches talk to a main switch for the building which talks back to the distros in the data center.”

Even though it may have seemed to some students that ITS simply wasn’t working fast enough to solve this issue, Gause said that there was a team that worked non-stop to fix the issue.

“We had a team of individuals working around the clock, physically on campus in the data center, to resolve this issue. The charge was lead by four to five SLU resources and numerous senior engineers from Cisco and Alagen,” said Gause.

On Wednesday night, Sept. 13, the Wi-Fi mercifully came back to life, thanks to the hard work of the repair team. Students across campus rejoiced and celebrated by watching Netflix, streaming music, posting selfies and, of course, finishing that long overdue online homework.

 

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