Fordham IT Addresses Wifi Issues


Fordham bandwidth fails to support students' Netflix habits. Casey Chun/The Fordham Ram

By Erin Shanahan

Fordham bandwidth fails to support students' Netflix habits. Casey Chun/The Fordham Ram

Fordham bandwidth fails to support students’ Netflix habits. Casey Chun/The Fordham Ram

As a result of the many wifi issues experienced by Fordham students around campus, Judith Rothschild, manager of Student Technology Services at Fordham University, addressed student concerns and potential solutions at USG’s public meeting on Thursday, Oct. 26. Rothschild reported Netflix as a primary cause for these problems. The online straming site uses 38.4 percent of Rose Hill’s internet link.

According to Rothschild, the main causes of the slow wifi connectivity include interference and lack of bandwidth.
Interference is caused by different devices competing for the same airspace. In her presentation to USG, Rothschild showed the Fordham wifi signal being overshadowed by other rogue device signals on all three channels.

According to Fordham’s IT Wireless policy, only devices such as computers, mobile phones and tablets are allowed to connect to the wireless network. Any other devices connected to the network are in violation of the the University’s Wireless printers, gaming devices, cell phone hotspots, smart TVs, Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast.

In an email sent to students, IT explained this issue through a traffic analogy: “Imagine our network is a highway. When a lot of cars are on the road, traffic will slow down. Similarly, when a lot of devices use the network, it slows down.”

“We are also looking to work with Student Affairs to make it more mandatory that students don’t have extra devices on the network,” Rothschild said in the the USG meeting. “It may eventually be in violation of Fordham’s policies. Regardless, it is an official violation of IT’s policies.”

Fordham’s one gigabyte Internet connection is saturated from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m., meaning, Fordham students are now regularly exceeding the capacity of our 1Gb pipeline. When the capacity spikes, the network crashes, causing the wifi issues students have been experiencing.

The bandwidth is not large enough to support the many streaming services used this year. Streaming of videos and other forms of media contribute to the majority of network traffic. According to Rothschild’s presentation, Netflix uses 38.4 percent of Rose Hill internet link, and 20 percent of Lincoln Center’s internet link.

As a result of these issues, IT has proposed several immediate solutions. IT encouraged student to take all prohibited devices offline, limit streaming, report problems to IT Customer Care or RTCs, fill out the Fall resident IT survey and informed all Fordham students about prohibited devices on the network.

Although they have made no definite plans yet, Fordham IT is exploring some other long-term solutions to the wifi problems. “We are currently trying to work with Netflix directly so we can get a line to Netflix in the city so that we can take that burden off our network,” Rothschild explained. “However, the problem is that this takes time, it takes money, and it takes a lot of collaboration with everybody at the university.”

Rothschild informed USG that the issue will not be resolved overnight. It will take some time to prepare a solution and execute it. Although she did not promise an exact date, Rothschild expressed that she hopes a solution will be found by the end of the year, or by the end of the semester.