MizzouWireless problems stem from software malfunctions
Allen said MizzouWireless infrastructure is solid, but programs are not working properly.
Sep. 24, 2014
Recent difficulties connecting to MizzouWireless have been attributed to authentication and coding issues, said Gary Allen, UM System vice president for information systems.
Allen said MizzouWireless relies on two systems that need to communicate to allow for reliable connection. However, the two systems have not properly worked together recently, causing connection issues.
“They’re supposed to be built in such a way that they can seamlessly communicate in fractions of milliseconds as you’re trying to connect,” he said. “When those systems don’t work together as advertised or intended, you get a problem.”
Bryan Roesslet, director of systems and operations, said while the increase in enrollment has added some stress to the network, the Division of Information Technology is equipped to handle the number of users.
Allen said MU has 12 wireless controllers on campus, which is more than half of what industry standards require. He said, however, that one of the controllers crashed at one point this semester, which caused unexpected malfunction in the network.
“It’s not a situation of being overwhelmed by the usage and not being prepared for that,” he said. “The code doesn’t always work the way that it’s supposed to, and that’s what we’re dealing with here. The code is not behaving as code should.”
Allen said the IT department relies on vendors to provide software that allows MizzouWireless to run smoothly, and the vendors need to be consulted each time an issue comes up.
Roesslet said while the IT department spent the summer working with the vendors to fix any issues before the semester started, it is still unsure what is causing the malfunction in the network or when MizzouWireless will begin to run smoothly.
“I can’t tell you the number of hours that we put in over the summer,” Roesslet said. “We were quite confident going into this semester that we were not going to see problems, and that still hasn’t proven to be the case.”
Ben Bolin, Missouri Students Association Senate speaker, said fixing wireless issues should be a main priority for MU.
“If MizzouWireless goes down for even an hour, it can make a difference in someone’s study session,” he said. “We believe and assume that it will always be up and running; so many of us leave things until the last minute to print off and get done, and without it students are left almost running rampant to find some source we can go to.”
Bolin said when the network suffered intermittent connection for a week last year, MSA met with the IT department to better understand the issue. He said that every time the network is disrupted, students take to social media to voice their complaints.
“The more we can’t access it, the less we trust the wireless system here,” Bolin said.
Roesslet said he recommends students to use wired connection in residential halls and public computer labs while the department continues working with vendors and technical experts to solve issues.
“We are working as hard as we can to fix this; this isn’t a lack of effort or technical skill,” he said. “None of that is intended to deflect from the importance of us getting this service back to the point that you all expect. We understand that we need to provide an infrastructure that allows people to get what they want and what they need.”