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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Wireless infidelity

Cartoon by Wyce Mirzad

Pierce College has a Wi-Fi problem.

Go almost anywhere on campus and the Wi-Fi connection is inconsistent to say the least. The separation between student and staff Wi-Fi networks and the lackluster speeds makes accessing a wireless connection on campus both confusing and difficult.

Besides the obvious issue of connection, there are problems for professors. Some rely on the internet to teach their lessons.

With the implementation of smart boards and large screen projectors in the newer modeled classrooms, some professors have taken to having fully online curriculums. That includes downloading their daily lessons to Canvas for later use, or playing videos from YouTube. But it is hard to get technology to work in a timely fashion due to the spotty Wi-Fi.

A solution to the problem would be to lay down fiber optic cables for Pierce. These cables would take time, money and effort on the part of Pierce to implement, but the result would provide high speed internet with a consistent connection throughout the entire campus no matter where students are located.

Pierce has a base of at least 20,000 students a semester, therefore, a large wireless system is needed. On top of this, Pierce has 426 acres of land that includes parts that are just farm. While it may be easy to say the farmland would not need to be covered, it is missing the point. All of Pierce needs to have functional Wi-Fi to work in harmony.  With classe still being held at the farm the need is still there to have a good wireless connection even if it is a small percentage of people using it. this would allow for everyone to have equal access to the internet on campus.

With the farmland aside, most classrooms at Pierce are unable to get a consistent wireless connection. At random times of day it can go from decent to none existent. this is compounded by the fact that the entire campus is splitting only 1 gigabyte of data for the entire campus. It’s easier to see the problem when such a small amount is being shared by such a large population.

Pierce is currently facing budget issues, but recently the Wi-Fi systems were upgraded. What the upgrades are, though, is fuzzy. There is no notable changes in speed or functionality when it comes to connection on campus.

According to a 2007 cost analysis by the U.S. Department of Transportation, in California it would cost $260,700 for each mile of fiber optic cable. while the price seems steep Pierce would only be a fraction of that, and the speed difference would be immediate.

There is places on campus as well where there is almost none. The Center for Science is a dead zone in most of its areas. The planetarium has actually no connection to Wi-Fi at all which has caused problems with emergency messages getting to students.

Fiber optic cable may be a large undertaking for installation and cost it would fix Pierce’s Wi-Fi problem. Fast internet is more of a requirement for a school. Pierce should take the step needed to solve the problem without worrying about potential costs, and just look at solving the problem.

The Roundup News
The Roundup is the student-run news outlet at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif.

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