In late May, when most Boston College students were away from campus on break, BC ITS began a major network infrastructure upgrade from “bcsecure” and “Boston College” wireless networks to a new, improved “eduroam” network. And, with the students back on campus for the fall semester, the results of this supposed improvement can be considered a lackluster start to what will hopefully be a major advancement.
The problem with “eduroam” is that it doesn’t connect and doesn’t stay connected as reliably as the old networks—as a wireless network, its ability to provide its intended service relies directly on these abilities. Even after students remove all other wireless networks his or her computer has ever had, he or she might be unable to get the network. During the student involvement fair, there were major issues with network connectivity because such a large volume of people were attempting to access eduroam all at the same time. Even professors have had to pause class in order to figure out network connectivity issues. While in the larger scheme of all tribulations and struggles on and off campus, having to wait a couple minutes for WiFi is relatively minor, it still presents an interference with academic pursuits and should therefore not be ignored or accepted.
BC ITS does a lot of work behind the scenes to keep the University running up to modern day speed, and the switch to “eduroam” represents an uncharacteristically transparent modification to student life. To see such a change go poorly only reflects negatively on BC ITS, when BC ITS’s intentions for the new network are well founded. The new network will allow study abroad and off-campus students to connect to WiFi by just logging in with his or her BC credentials, it will be able to handle large-scale campus events, such as sports games and talks from well-renowned speakers, and it will allow BC to keep up to speed with other colleges in Boston who also have already made the switch, including Harvard, Simmons, and Emerson.
Yes, it seems as if “eduroam” is a step backward for campus life and the BC ITS department, but in reality all it is is a shoddy start. Ultimately, the new WiFi is a great concept that, if pulled off to its full capacity, will make students wonder why “bcsecure” and “Boston College” didn’t get thrown out of the game semesters earlier.
Featured Image by Francisco Ruela / Heights Graphics