While demand increases, Wifi expands

Nisheeka Simmons, Staff Writer

Recently FMU has undergone an expansion to the school’s wireless internet system, making wireless access available to students in several dormitories.

According to John Dixon, Chief Information Officer of the Academic Computer Center (ACC), FMU has only provided wireless access for about eight years.  Initially only in student dominated areas, the Wi-Fi extension is the result of the increased influx of student devices.

“It used to be that access was limited to student dominated areas, as many students did not bring their own devices,” Dixon said.  “Once students began bringing devices, the wireless was expanded to include academic buildings.  Now students have multiple devices, so the number of access points was increased to be able to accommodate them.”

That is why as of fall 2012, wireless access became available to six of the student dorms. Dixon explained that the wireless will eventually expand to the entire student housing, including the Forest Villas Apartment Complex and The Village apartments.

Dixon went on to add that with this mass expansion, there is hope for another major change to the way students access the internet. There will be a domain that students will be able to access with their own personal log-in information.

The vision of this log-in, Dixon explained, is that students will be able to access all of the information pertinent to their education at FMU, including their student email account and Blackboard account.  Along with these, the personal domains will allow students to use computer applications relevant to the specific classes they are taking.

“It is confusing for students to have to find the applications needed for their classes on campus,” Dixon said.  “They have to go to one building to find the ones for chemistry, then to another building for something else.  The personal log-ins will eliminate that problem and allow students to use the applications they need on any campus computer.”

On campus there are many students who have problems with staying connected to the university’s wireless access.  Jessica Briggs, a freshman at FMU, said that she has experienced this problem herself.

“I will be in the middle of completing homework and the Wi-Fi will just shut off,” Briggs said. “It sometimes takes a while to come back on.”

Teresa McDuffie, Network Administrator for the ACC, offered information for students who have this particular problem with maintaining access.  She attributes the interruptions in access to IP (Internet Protocol) routers.

What the routers essentially do is “steal” a device’s wireless access.  According to McDuffie, when a student tries to connect to the FMU Wi-Fi, they are given a specific IP address from the network.  When in use, IP routers hijack the address, leaving the student with one that does not work.

“We tell the students not to bring routers,” Dixon said.  “However, a few still manage to make it onto campus.”

Dixon went on to explain that simply disconnecting and reconnecting to the school’s wireless access will allow the student to continue using the internet.  This process will give the student a new, working IP address.

Dixon also added that with a few simple steps, the ACC can find and remove IP routers.  She explained that if a student realizes their IP address has been hijacked, they should write it down.  When they have the complete address they should call Campus Technology, where someone will be able to track down the specific IP router that interrupted the student’s access.

Dixon said that more information on the school’s wireless access and IP routers is obtainable in the form of handouts located in the ACC.

For more information contact John Dixon at (843) 661-1335 or Teresa McDuffie at (843) 661-1339.