USC Information Technology Services reported that the hardware problems that caused frequent USC Wireless outages during December have been fully resolved.
ITS added new hardware that can better manage and support large influxes of data. The department also reconfigured the networks to improve performance.
“The USC Wireless network is growing on a daily basis,” said Russ Kaurloto, ITS associate chief information officer. “Many students, faculty and staff come to campus with multiple wireless devices. ITS is always evaluating improvements to the network to improve access and performance.”
USC experienced numerous outages across its USC Wireless and USC Wireless Plus networks during the week before finals last semester, causing widespread frustration among students. While technicians at that time identified that the problem was with the hardware, they experienced difficulty pinpointing the root of the problem.
Since December, technicians have worked to identify and resolve the outage problem.
“The cause of the problem was an inordinate amount of network connections and traffic, including video streaming, which saturated the network,” Kaurloto said.
USC ITS recorded more than 27,750 devices attempting to connect to USC Wireless simultaneously on Dec. 5 alone.
Initially, the performance issues facing USC Wireless were intermittent and limited to short intervals, allowing the network to recover from high demand. However, without a continuous outage, it was more difficult for technicians to identify the precise cause of the issue.
First, technicians had to identify the types of traffic creating an excessive load on the network. Then, once the channels were identified, technicians were then required to evaluate the available technical options to ensure that they would effectively resolve the problem.
To ensure these issues do not resurface this semester, Kaurloto explained that USC ITS has incorporated several preventive measures into the network, including limiting the types of traffic allowed on the wireless networks.
“ITS is constantly evaluating network performance and adding new monitoring and networking tools,” Kaurloto said.
The wireless issues last semester were disruptive both in and outside of the classroom.
“Everything in the classroom has become more digital. Many of my professors send out study guides, assignments and notes online,” said Sabrina Fung, a graduate student majoring in urban planning. “Without the Internet, it was difficult to access and download files from Blackboard when I came to study on campus.”
Because of the high demand for an Internet connection, students also found it difficult to access alternate Internet resources on campus, particularly at the libraries.
Katherine Wu, a junior majoring in biomedical engineering, who also works at Leavey Library, said that Internet outages led to the unfamiliar problem of overcrowding in the library.
“There were long lines for computers and it was really hot,” Wu said.
For some students, however, the lack of Internet led to an increase in productivity.
“Since I could not access the Internet, I spent time getting work done that did not require the Internet,” said Melinda Grodsky, a graduate student majoring in public administration. “I actually found this to be productive. It allowed me to focus on readings and assignments without distraction from the Internet.”
Despite the frustration the outages caused last month, students did not express concern or worry that the USC Wireless issues would present additional problems for them this semester.
“I’m not concerned about future problems with USC Wireless,” Grodsky said. “I think USC is on top of it.”