University of Richmond Information Services conducted a software upgrade on Sept. 23 to address the ongoing Wi-Fi issues on campus.
The upgrade targeted an issue with the wired aggregation switches that connect the Wi-Fi network, urwin, to the access points located across campus, according to an email Information Services sent to staff, students and faculty on Oct. 4.
The problem with the aggregation switches was revealed when the number of devices simultaneously connected to the Wi-Fi reached a peak. In the spring 2022 semester, the total number of devices stayed below 6,000, but this fall, it reached between 6,300 and 6,800 devices, causing a software malfunction, Information Services wrote in the email.
Information Services started receiving several separate reports on Aug. 16 about Wi-Fi issues with common symptoms of slow internet connection and web browsers that would not load, said Greg Miller, director of enterprise identity and access.
Because the issue was inconsistent and it was hard to know how many people were affected, Information Services declared the problem a ‘major incident’ on Sept. 1, Miller said. Information Services use that metric to track and learn more about widespread technology issues on campus. Students, staff and faculty members can submit an online ticket to report and receive updates about major incidents and find a list of current ones on UR’s SpiderTechNet.
Between Aug. 16 and Sept. 22, Information Services recorded 135 tickets related to the Major Incident, Miller said. As of Oct. 5, Information Services wrote they have not received any more reports related to the same campus-wide Wi-Fi issue since the upgrade, however, Information Services is still working with members of the UR community on unrelated Wi-Fi issues.
Intermittent Wi-Fi issues made it difficult for junior Caitlin Sales to do her computer science homework, but Sales said she had not had an issue connecting to Wi-Fi since the upgrade.
Sales also works as a student manager and consultant at UR’s Technology Learning Center and said she had not received any more reports or questions about the Wi-Fi issue since Sept. 23.
It is unusual that UR performed the software upgrade for the aggregation switches right after its network vendor, Aruba Networks, released the software update on Sept. 22, Miller said. Usually, UR waits a few months – or even a few weeks – to ensure the new software is stable and to allow other customers to find possible issues with it. But because the Wi-Fi issue has been persistent throughout the semester, Information Services wanted to solve it right away, Miller said.
“In this case, we knew we had a problem, we knew this would fix it and so, of course, we went ahead and did it,” he said.
If members of the UR community start having the same Wi-Fi issue again, Information Services will immediately alert Aruba Networks to get support and resolve the issue, Miller said.
Anyone on campus who is encountering Wi-Fi issues can contact the Help Desk by calling 804-287-6400 or by submitting a ticket on SpiderTechNet. Information Services encourages details such as time and location to be included.
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