As the GCC student body grows, so does the need for more wireless internet access.
When many of the popular locations on campus start to slow down and knock students off the grid, many other less populated locations still go strong, but in an undesired location.
“Internet is okay here… it’s just patchy,” said Mark Perez, 21, a communications major.
“The library should be where it’s the strongest, but you can barely find a place to connect there.”
Jack Raubolt, senior consultant for ITS at GCC, has seen the problem and made plans to handle the situation in an analytical approach, addressing where more service needs to be added, whether it be on connectivity or on population.
“Our main goal is coverage and stability,” Raubolt said. “Wireless used to be an add-on service and part of the plan; now it’s an integral part of any campus.”
The main problem, according to Raubolt, isn’t going to be solved only by purchasing more access points, but also further strengthening the bandwidth in specific points on campus.
“Originally, our plan was to purchase more access points, but that only solves part of the problem,” Raubolt said. “We can have all the access points we want, but without strong support, it won’t solve anything.”
Raubolt used “heat mapping,” which shows how many people are using GCC’s wireless service in locations around campus. With it, ITS can properly make changes to the amount of service given to the location.
“Normally where I hang out, the service is actually pretty good,” said Kevin Vasquez, 21, a student at GCC. “Many places where I go to, other than the second floor of the auditorium, I get knocked off after a while and the service isn’t too good.”
While all access points are tuned to the maximum level of service, places such as the library are clogged with users. The child care center access point, a much less populated location of GCC, has very strong connection.
When asked if switching over to a closed system, which would require students to log into the system and blocking out visitors, similar to colleges like PCC and CSUN, Raubolt said the college has no plans on blocking the service to anyone.
“The ITS never wants to be the Internet police,” Raubolt said. “If there is ever a problem with someone abusing the internet, we rather solve it on a one-to-one basis.”
In addition to solving the wireless problem on campus, the new lab college building will also have reconfigurations to the original plans to set up their labs. Labs, originally focused around computers on every table, students will now bring their own devices, with computers on some desks, much like the library.
“When the original plans were finalized, wireless was just a tiny part of the plan,” Raubolt said. “Now 70 percent of all transmissions are through wireless transmissions, so the labs will be there, but about half of the tables will be free to use.”
In addition to applying the bring-your-own-device stations in the labs, charging stations
will be installed, like airport charging stations, allowing the
free tables to move if needed.
As laptops and tablets become more portable and wireless capabilities grow stronger, GCC needs to keep up with technology. About a decade ago, wireless fidelity was new and wasn’t strong. Now, Wi-Fi is used daily and is everywhere.
Raubolt said, “It’s a necessary step in our technology evolution.”
The campus expects to start a study on the campus’ wireless service in July and expects to finish their study in four to six weeks and will remain open to all.