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Photo by Brent Bemiller.

Campus residents struggle with sluggish internet speeds

Hell hath no fury quite like college students with no internet, a lesson that UMBC was reminded of when students had to deal with unusually slow internet speeds in residential halls during the first week-and-a-half of the semester.

The problem stemmed from internal issues with the network system, specifically the controllers that manage the internet traffic of users. Some of the ways that the internet traffic patterns are set up on UMBC caused “network fragmentation,” and thus a decrease in performance. This problem was identified by the Division of Information Technology on February 6th, which addressed the problem by shrinking the size of the data packets in order to avoid further fragmentation.

The internet issues were not limited to a few residential halls as it affected dormitories and apartments on campus. For students, activities like online video gaming were the most heavily affected, due to the constant need for fast internet speeds. Damian Doyle, Senior Director of Enterprise Infrastructure in the Division of Information Technology said that those students, “noticed it the most due to a different software bug,” due to UMBC changing, “how the wired networks were configured to try and address that software bug.”

Some of the issues were caused by the rolling out of wifi in every room in residential areas by UMBC over the 2017 summer break. Doyle explained why, saying that, “the end goal of [improving the wifi] should be really great connectivity. Due to a couple of these bugs, this is sort of the downside of being cutting edge, we have the newest, latest, greatest things, but then we also hit some of the newest, latest, greatest bugs… The hope is that as we get these things fixed, everybody’s connectivity is nice and fast.”

Students were very displeased with the slow internet. A myUMBC post titled “Internet Slow” was posted by a student user received 121 paws, stating that, “we need as many people to open help tickets as possible. This will not get fixed until enough people complain that they do more than they are doing now.” Damian Doyle agreed, saying that, “Whenever there’s a problem, we need to be told… Every bit of feedback helps.”