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How would you like to have your WiFi network on campus be known as “BU Insecure?”

At Bradley University, this nickname has become popular among students for it’s troublesome Wi-Fi network; in this day and age, this is unacceptable.

It is no secret that WiFi has become critical to the modern college experience. Whether it be for conducting research or submitting homework, it is advantageous, sometimes even required, to connect to the internet for many classes. Students value their WiFi because, as a recent study shows, 9 out of 10 college students say that reliable, high quality Wi-Fi is important to his or her academic success. In addition to academics, the popularity of social media, Netflix, and other online forms of entertainment make the demand for WiFi that much higher in college dorms. So, you would expect internet performance to be top-notch at most of these college dorms, right?

WRONG.

University officials regularly boast of their fast, campus-wide, free WiFi; however, students tell an entirely different story.

A study suggests 78% of students complain about the quality of Wi-Fi on campus. You won’t see it on a campus website, but online forums and social media are flooded with complaints and appeals for improvement to internet connectivity on campus. What causes these issues?

The main culprit is the recent, rapid increase of devices connected to the internet, such as smartphones, gaming devices, printers, etc. that have congested dormitory WiFi. To achieve better connections, this multitude of devices competes for bandwidth, a campus WiFi network’s capacity to send and receive data over a given time. Not only that, video streaming has increased and has required significantly more bandwidth than ever before, especially at times when a large number of people are surfing the web or streaming video. If you are a college student, you likely have seen the effects of network congestion during exams and other busy WiFi traffic times.

Harvard University’s Student IT board argues that their WiFi, while already poor, becomes exceptionally slow from 10PM-1AM and believes adding additional bandwidth will solve the problem of congestion in dorms around the campus; however, this short-term solution is expensive and does not solve the problem. Universities must figure out how to cope with this device increase. A few companies claim to have found solutions but no improvements will be made until students speak up.

The fact is, students do not have a viable outlet to voice their concerns. Student IT Board’s exist to advocate for the student body, yet universities do not have to take them seriously. Why? Because this outcry does not occur in the public eye. Unless a university’s reputation is at stake, why search for a solution?

The key issue is here, the poor WiFi in dorms affects students living on-campus, but university officials ultimately have the power to decide whether these changes are necessary. Bradley University began a Wi-Fi improvement project this summer slated to be ready in the Fall. The students got the attention of the University; as a result, change will happen. Follow their lead and improve your school’s WiFi.

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