YSU Getting Network Refresher

By Melissa Turosik

A common complaint among students at Youngstown State University is Wi-Fi connectivity being poor or nonexistent, but the campus has been receiving upgrades for the past 15 months to enhance wireless capabilities.

Ryan Geilhard, director of IT Infrastructure Services at YSU, said there are about 48 buildings that needed upgrades.

“We decided we needed to do a six-year refresh cycle — essentially that’s eight buildings per year … about every 90 days,” Geilhard said.

He said the refresh cycle replaces network routing and switches components in all YSU buildings including wireless access points.

He said some of the devices in buildings are 10 to 15 years old, so newer devices do not have compatibility.

“Your phone is only going to do so well against devices like the access points that are that old,” Geilhard said.

He said after this fiscal year most of the academic buildings and student-focused areas such as Kilcawley will be completed.

“We prioritize those number one,” he said. “We’re really here for the students.”

Geilhard said they also decide what to do based on the age of equipment and the number of help desk tickets that have been logged.

He said if there are a lot of complaints in one area versus others, they know it needs to be prioritized.

Geilhard said there are two ways to measure Wi-Fi: speed and coverage. He said speed is the rate a person can navigate web pages and services, while coverage relates to whether a person has access to Wi-Fi at all.

Geilhard said there are fewer new access points because the antennas are better and cover more area.

Chris Wentz, associate director of network security and information security officer in IT, said he looks at the network security across campus, primarily on the technical side.

“That ranges from anything from internal threats to external threats inbound and outbound,” he said.

Wentz said bring-your-own-device issues become a part of their concern as well because they are operating within network walls.

Francine Hazy, a YSU student, said she believes the Wi-Fi and connection on campus is tolerable.

“There is definitely room for improvement. Generally, my phone and laptop connect well. Sometimes, it takes a long time for them to connect,” Hazy said.

Hazy said some locations on campus seem to have worse connection than others.

“For example, the other day, when I was in the Kilcawley Annex, my phone and laptop would not connect at all for over an hour,” she said.

Hazy said she is a student worker, and some of the websites she needs access to for work take forever to connect.

“Overall, I think the speed and the strength of the Wi-Fi connection should be improved; however, since it is free, I understand why it might not be the best Wi-Fi,” Hazy said.

Geilhard said one potential wireless project consists of stronger outdoor wireless connection in the campus core. He said they are also considering public access for events such as in Beeghly Center or Stambaugh Stadium and an improved experience for campus visitors.