Wi-Fi connections at GBC are an on-going problem

George Brown is adding access points to increase wireless accessibility

George Brown is adding access points to increase wireless accessibility Photo Illustration: Sam Bullis/The Dialog

George Brown is adding access points to increase wireless accessibility
Photo Illustration: Sam Bullis/The Dialog

Wi-Fi connections at George Brown College (GBC) have continued to be a problem among students. The college has recognized the problems and is working hard to make adjustments at all campuses that are beneficial to all students.

“What we’ve done over the last two years is really invest heavily in that entire chain of connection points so that we didn’t have any one point of failure,” said Paul Ruppert, chief information officer at GBC. “So what we’ve done (in the last two years) we’ve doubled, we’ve gone to 732 access points, added about 250, so almost doubled the number access point so that provides the availability of the wireless signal in more places across all of our campuses.”

Having been able to manage the current coverage with the addition of access points as the first phase, Ruppert says the next step is to infill areas with higher density, and where there is a higher population of students and devices.

After coming to GBC about “a year and a quarter ago,” Ruppert established the idea of a dashboard to monitor and analyze current trends and traffic within the college.

With students carrying multiple devices at school: laptops, tablets, cellphones and more, the college has seen a major increase in live-streaming, as mentioned by Ruppert in the Sept. 24 Student Association board of directors meeting. Trends indicated that the college was typically seeing 10,000 connections per day this past spring, peaking to about 12,000 connections.

“Starting in September, now we have about 14,000 devices on the network and peaks at about 15,000,” said Ruppert. “So, just from March of this year to September (of this year) what we’re seeing is an increase of between 20 and 40 per cent of the number of devices on the network, and that’s OK because we’ve actually designed the network to handle about 22,000 devices.”

The student population at GBC is increasing each year, and with that comes more devices. Technology advances and so must George Brown.

This fall start-up, Ruppert says students weren’t really complaining about Stu-View because of its quickness and responsiveness compared to last year. Currently the college is also making changes to Blackboard and to the email systems to make them more useful to students.

“It’s not just about adding more access points, if we don’t have everything else in the chain behind it, it really doesn’t make much of a difference in terms of user experience,” said Ruppert. “It’s the quality of student life we’re trying to achieve here, it’s not just the academic part of a student experience, it’s also the other surrounding student experience that we’re trying to enhance, with a robust wireless network.”

For IT help and support, Ruppert says he’s “certainly happy to respond directly to students because I understand what they’re going through,” providing his email cio@georgebrown.ca, and saying that they can also talk to the contact centres as well as the library.

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Wi-Fi connections at GBC are an on-going problem