Reader Commentary: Acknowledge efforts to improve wireless reception
Recently, an editorial in the Justice discussed concerns related to IT infrastructure at Brandeis. The focus was on two areas in particular: cellular coverage on campus, notably in the Foster Mods, and Wi-Fi service in the Foster Mods.
For several months, Information Technology Services has been in discussions with AT&T and Verizon Wireless concerning cellular coverage on campus. Both carriers have proposed expanding their infrastructure onto campus to alleviate coverage issues on their networks. Subsequently, ITS has also reached out to T-Mobile and Sprint.
ITS will continue to work with these four major wireless carriers to augment their network coverage on campus to provide a better overall customer experience. Solutions discussed have included modifying or replacing light poles, installing cellular nodes and installing in-building antenna systems that connect directly to the carriers. (Because of technical limitations, the use of repeaters, which was mentioned in the Justice editorial, would create more problems than it solves.) Much of this work would be in the hands of the wireless carriers and, in some cases, would require Waltham’s approval. The carriers will need to conduct studies to determine the best solution for improving cellular experience.
To evaluate the Wi-Fi experience in the Foster Mods, ITS staff members checked signal levels in a number of units on Oct. 13. No deficiencies in Wi-Fi coverage were readily apparent. As a next step, ITS will contract with an engineering firm to conduct a site survey of all on-campus residence halls.
Depending on the survey results, a project plan will be created to address and remediate any concerns found. We expect to have the site survey conducted by mid-June 2018, with a finalized remediation plan by July 2018.
In parsing systems logs to gather more information on the Wi-Fi concerns, ITS has found that some students are connecting their devices to “brandeis_open” instead of “eduroam.” “Eduroam” is the only network that mobile devices are currently allowed to use. Over the next few weeks, ITS will design and distribute a “cheat sheet” for students, outlining the purpose of each wireless network and providing details on which cellular carriers support Wi-Fi calling.
We thank the Justice and the Brandeis community for voicing their concerns regarding IT infrastructure. We always appreciate feedback. Please send your comments to David Albrecht, director of networks, systems and security, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We want to improve the on-campus experience for all cellular users and are committed to providing periodic updates about our work.
—Jim La Creta is chief information officer of Information Technology Services and David Albrecht is director of Networks and Systems.