Mathews Hall gets re-wired

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

Wired Ethernet ports have returned to Mathews Hall after the instability of its wireless Internet caused academic problems and resident frustration.

One wired port per room was installed in the hall on Nov. 10, said Mike Adelaine, vice president for information technology.

Since then, residents have said the situation has gotten better.

“It works really well,” said Cassie Christy, a freshman Mathews resident. “It has improved a lot.”

Erik Hanson, a Students’ Association senator and Mathews Hall resident, agreed that the wired ports have their advantages.

“People enjoy having the hard connection,” he said. “If they take a test online, they can have a secure connection.”

This fall, Mathews Hall became SDSU’s first completely wireless dorm, serving as a pilot to see if all halls should get wireless Internet.

From the beginning, residents complained of slow connection speeds and getting disconnected. A recent survey conducted by hall officials and taken by 173 Mathews residents found that 94 percent had experienced problems with the wireless Internet. Almost 75 percent had issues that affected their academic work and 21 respondents were kicked off while completing a test, said Hanson.

Christy, a psychology major, said she sometimes had problems downloading assignments from the Desire 2 Learn Web site.

“There were too many people trying to get on, and the Internet was so slow,” she said. “Since the wireless was fairly new, people didn’t know what to do or how to fix it.”

Adelaine said these problems have shown that the campus is not quite ready for a completely wireless residence hall.

“This was an attempt to see if we could support all connections no matter what the application is through the wireless environment,” he said. “? We’re not there yet.”

Part of the problem, Adelaine said, was that the university purchased the “latest and greatest” access points and most of the students’ laptops were not compatible with the emerging wireless N (802.11N) technology. Students with the wireless N card probably had few problems with their connection, he said.

With Mathews Hall’s problems in mind, the university will continue to test wireless technology across campus. Adelaine said the first dorm pilot was “too aggressive,” but the university will be conducting smaller tests of wireless in the next 15 to 18 months. For example, the new residence halls may have some floors with wireless Internet.

From her experiences, Christy recommends that if a dorm becomes wireless, the hard-wire ports should be kept at least for a while.

“They should keep the wired ports in so that they have a backup plan,” she said.