As much of campus awaits proper wireless connections and improved access to the existing “DOT1X” network, the College is entering year three of its multi-year wireless plan, with new buildings scheduled for updates between 2014 and 2015. Among these locations are certain residence halls, the townhouses and classrooms, but the process is trickier than a cursory glance might suggest.
The multi-year plan organizes its wireless agenda along a hierarchy of importance. Jointly headed by the Academic Affairs and Student Affairs offices, the plan prioritizes on housing and academic buildings first before moving onto areas such as administrative and operation centers, according to David Muha, associate vice president for Communications, Marketing and Brand Management.
“Among the factors considered in the (plan’s) phasing were the timing of renovation projects in buildings to receive Wi-Fi, housing amenities available to different cohorts of students and which installations would be most impactful,” Muha said.
Some updates will be completed as soon as the spring and summer, according to the College’s website.
Armstrong Hall, Bliss Hall, the Music Building and the Social Science Building are on deck for wireless installations, while Norsworthy Hall will gain access over the summer during its renovations.
2015 will bring other buildings to the forefront of the plan. Travers and Wolfe Halls are slated for wireless work, but their “size and construction” complicate a quick installation process, according to Muha
The Townhouses will also receive wireless connection in 2015. All the same, they tend to be equally as problematic.
“(They) are a unique problem because of how they are constructed,” Muha said. “The College is in the process of installing emergency phones in these units and plans to use the same conduit for wireless once this work is complete.”
Resident students have criticized the Townhouses in particular for their lack of proper wireless access where it should be seen as a necessity.
“Living in Townhouses East is difficult enough as it is … perhaps the biggest price one pays for living there is the dearth of wireless Internet,” said junior English and health and exercise science double major Craig Ismaili. “We only get one Ethernet port in the room, which means if we want to switch the Internet access from our computer to our gaming console, we have to manually change them. Devices such as Kindles have also been rendered useless.”
For those buildings already granted wireless access, the DOT1X system in place has also yielded mixed results. The network, which replaced the older Wireless-at-TCNJ network as of spring 2013, has left students befuddled — for many, the network’s performance has been shoddy and its reliability even poorer.
“The number of times I’ve tried to submit essays or do some last-minute research or even read my emails, only to face mind-numbing Internet slowness or total loss of connection, is infuriating,” sophomore political science major and resident of Decker Hall Sam Waxenbaum said. “The Internet connection here causes so many problems that logging onto PAWS sometimes makes me feel like I’m in purgatory.”
As far as the IT department is concerned, the occurrence of these setbacks is minimal, if not undocumented.
“A review of system’s operational data show many connections and many megabytes of data transferred into (buildings such as) Decker Hall, so Information Technology would need more information to focus in on a singular problem,” Muha said.
That said, no system is infallible. According to Muha, it’s likely that sitting at certain angles or locations can cause connection snags, but that Information Technology lacks the analysis needed to act on the matter.
“Students are encouraged to contact IT with specific locations, times and dates so that the support specialists can respond,” Muha said.
While the College is considering the feasibility of speeding up the installation process, according to Muha, many students will simply have to wait a little longer for the DOT1X network to reach their doorsteps.