Failed connections: Pitt’s new Wi-Fi met with mixed reception

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Failed connections: Pitt’s new Wi-Fi met with mixed reception

Pitt recently outsourced Wi-Fi services for students living in residence halls.

Pitt recently outsourced Wi-Fi services for students living in residence halls.

Sarah Cutshall | Visual Editor

Pitt recently outsourced Wi-Fi services for students living in residence halls.

Sarah Cutshall | Visual Editor

Sarah Cutshall | Visual Editor

Pitt recently outsourced Wi-Fi services for students living in residence halls.

By Jon Moss, Assistant News Editor

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Two weeks into the semester, Pitt’s new Wi-Fi system is being put to the test — and is falling down, according to some students.

Over the summer, Pitt replaced the all-free, University-managed Wireless-PittNet system in residence halls with MyResNet, a product of Apogee, a technology services provider for universities. Students were promised “reliable … guaranteed” speeds of 60 Mbps for downloads and 20 Mbps, for free per device, on up to seven devices. For faster speeds, students can pay $69 per semester for speeds of 100 Mbps for downloads and 50 Mbps for uploads, per device, for use on up to 10 devices.

[Read: Pitt outsources dorm Wi-Fi, will charge for faster speeds]

Alexi Zukas, a sophomore physics and astronomy major, said he was upset about the MyResNet change and frustrated that speed tests he ran from his computer did not reach the speeds promised by Pitt. A speed test recorded by Zukas at 10:57 p.m. on Aug. 26, the first day of classes, shows 6.94 Mbps for downloads and 8.48 Mbps for uploads.

Zukas said he spoke with a MyResNet representative last Friday and was told the slowdowns were likely due to the large load of the first few weeks of classes, as well as “a bug in their system that throttles speeds of important applications versus unimportant ones.”

“MyResNet has had extremely shoddy service the first few days on campus,” Zukas, a Ruskin Hall resident, said. “ResNet has assured us time and time again that we’ll be guaranteed these 60/20 speeds no matter what we do.”

Another student, Ayli Paolucci, a sophomore linguistics major, said he has experienced slower speeds during late night hours during the first week of classes.

“When it’s between the hours of 7 and midnight, and my internet throttles down to less than 10% of [the promised speeds], there’s a problem,” Paolucci, a Lothrop Hall resident, said.

Paolucci added that he reached out to Pitt IT to set up an ethernet connection in his dorm room.

University spokesperson Meg Ringler said in an email that students may experience slower speeds due to not properly registering devices with the service or by connecting to the MyResNet Legacy network instead of MyResNet.

“It’s important that any student who is experiencing slower than expected speeds contact our 24/7 IT Help Desk at 412-624-4357,” Ringler said. “This allows us to troubleshoot and take corrective action.”

For other Pitt students, the service has been working as promised. Edward Loveday, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, said MyResNet has largely worked for him.

“Sometimes when I run speed tests on my computer, it’ll come through as the advertised speeds, sometimes it’ll come in a bit lower,” Loveday, a Lothrop Hall resident, said. “But it’s been generally consistent from what I can tell.”

Pitt Computing Services and Systems Development still operates the free Wireless-PittNet and Wireless-PittNet-Fast Wi-Fi networks at all academic buildings, which offer speeds of up to 300 Mbps per wireless access point, as opposed to individual devices. In an FAQ, Pitt IT described MyResNet as being a significant improvement over PittNet in residence halls since PittNet Wi-Fi speeds varied depending on how many other devices were connected to an access point at that time.

At the time of the announcement, University spokesperson Kevin Zwick said the MyResNet migration was a result of feedback and CSSD Help Desk requests from students over the past few years.

But some students were upset at the move by the University, wondering why tuition — which was just increased by as much as 7% for some students — as well as room and board fees, did not fully cover Wi-Fi costs. Every semester, students pay a mandatory $175 computer and network services fee, which the University uses for “upgrading and maintaining the University’s computer systems, equipment, and facilities,” according to the Student Payment Center.

Concerning MyResNet, Ringler added that the University is looking into a service interruption that occurred last Thursday night and has not yet determined the cause of the interruption.

“It was immediately recognized when an intermittent network interruption appeared to affect some students on campus,” Ringler said. “All systems were back online within 10 minutes and Apogee continues to monitor and manage the network to ensure full availability.”

Ringler also said more than 29,500 devices are registered across more than 8,100 users, but fewer than 1.25% of users have reported issues with MyResNet. She also said only 2% of users purchased the premium MyResNet plan which includes upgraded speeds.

“As with any project of this scope, we expect some network adjustments to be necessary to ensure expected speeds in all corners of the more than 30 residence halls across campus,” Ringler said. “Field tests conducted by CSSD consistently show that speeds of 60 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload are being realized.”

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