ITS announces plan to improve wireless Internet

Finding a strong, consistent wireless Internet connection on campus can be harder than finding a seat in The Lot at noon, but USC’s Information Technology Services hopes to solve that problem by increasing the number of wireless access points across campus within the next year.

Making connections · Finding a wireless Internet connection on campus can be difficult, but USC ITS is hoping to remedy the problem. - Photo illustration by Vicki Yang

ITS announced this week that the wireless Internet availability at both the University Park Campus and the Health Sciences Campus will be drastically increased in coming months.

According to Kevin Durkin, director of communications and marketing for ITS, USC is working to ensure every academic building on both campuses has access to wireless Internet.

“We recognize that most of our users rely on the wireless network more than the wired network, and we’re trying to respond to that,” Durkin said.

Over the past decade, the need for wireless Internet on campus has increased dramatically, according to Durkin. In 2002, ITS maintained 214 wireless points on campus. Now, that number is up to 1,578 — a 125 percent increase in coverage over the last three years alone.

Despite this increase in coverage, an annual ITS customer survey that measures feedback from a random selection of students and faculty on campus showed a continuously growing demand for reliable wireless Internet coverage.

“Wireless on the campuses has been the key point of dissatisfaction,” Durkin said.

In response to student and faculty concerns, ITS is now looking for a new vendor for the university’s wireless infrastructure and to add more wireless access points.

“It’s going to be pervasive coverage,” Durkin said. “It’s going to cover both campuses, and we believe the access itself will also be improved.”

This is good news for students who often use, or attempt to use, the USC wireless network on campus.

“They should fix it because it gets really weak,” said Manaal Jafrey, a junior majoring in business administration. “Even right now it can’t connect.”

Jafrey said she often uses the on-campus wireless in and near Leavey Library and the Marshall School of Business without problems, but she has run into problems in other areas.

Saira Zia, a senior majoring in communication, said she has been very disappointed with the poor wireless coverage near another major library on campus.

“Mine is really weak around the Doheny area,” Zia said. “It should work there.”

Durkin encourages students to visit the ITS website, which specifically pinpoints all of the campus’s wireless access points, including floor-by-floor and room-by-room coverage.

“What students can do is look at the map and check out which rooms have coverage,” Durkin said. “We want this to be something that makes [students] more self-sufficient.”

ITS could not comment on how much the overhaul will cost because it is still in the process of evaluating vendors to see which is a good fit for the university.

Though specific buildings are not yet targeted, Durkin said there will be overall increased wireless coverage throughout the entire campus, including dorms, residence halls and even some off-campus spots.

Durkin maintained, however, that ITS is not in charge of wireless service off campus, so not all off-campus university housing students are guaranteed wireless Internet.

“We’re working on it, so stay tuned,” he said.