Junior Brandon Fredman said he has hated MizzouWireless since day one.
“I could not believe how slow it was,” Fredman said. “Then the first day of my freshman year, MizzouWireless crashed. I called IT, and they told me that the servers cannot handle all the new activations, and it will always crash on the first day of school, and there is nothing they can do about it.”
The UM IT System Status’ website shows five cases between August and September 2014 when wireless internet either did not work or was slow. Administration has been aware of the reliability problems with MizzouWireless “for some time,” MU spokesperson Christian Basi said.
Now, the problem is being addressed through TigerWiFi, the new wireless network that was introduced on campus at the start of summer.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to improve our wireless network on campus,” Basi said. “We have started the process and expect all of our academic buildings to be completed by the beginning of the fall semester. The entire project should be completed by Spring 2016.”
As of May 28, Agricultural Engineering, Animal Science Research Center and Eckles Hall have been upgraded to TigerWiFi. This area will be completed before moving on to others, Basi said.
Buildings will be upgraded to TigerWiFi throughout the summer. Students can look for signs that say “Entering TigerWiFi Zone” to know that they should use the new network. The Division of IT will also be posting updates on their Facebook and Twitter accounts regularly as they continue to upgrade old wireless access point equipment.
The goal is to improve functionality, reliability and support in the system, Basi said.
“We have been planning to upgrade our wireless system for several months and were waiting for a time when it would cause the least disruption to campus,” Basi said. “We felt (MizzouWireless) could no longer handle the demands of our campus community.”
Residence Halls Association President Billy Donley said he has high expectations for TigerWiFi.
“I hope that it will not only bring a stronger connection for wireless but bring more reliability across campus,” Donley said. “I want to be able to have the same Internet speed in any building I walk into. I would also like more outside coverage so I can be productive on the Quad or maybe sitting outside of the Student Center.”
Donley used the phrase “touch-and-go” to describe MizzouWireless, referring to its frequent crashes, which he said causes problem for him when working on large assignments. Donley thinks one reason for the crashes may be that students use the Wi-Fi for leisure — streaming Netflix, for example.
He said he wishes that more students would use Ethernet when they can, though he added that the Internet should be able to keep up with students demands, regardless of their nature.
“I have had multiple moments where I was trying to get homework done or complete study guide for some of my classes and then the Internet cut out halfway through,” Donley said. “It's very hard when the majority of your classes require online homework to be submitted.”
The switch to TigerWifi may also alleviate some students’ financial concerns. Fredman said he has learned to rely on his mobile data plan instead of MizzouWireless.
While Fredman said he thinks the hefty bill is worth it to evade MizzouWireless, he hopes that the new system will be easier to log into and work faster so that he can stop paying for mobile data on top of the university’s mandatory WiFi bill, which is included in residential fees for students living on campus, as well as in an IT fee of $13.10 for each credit hour that students take, said Basi.
Donley said that for the cost of college, reliable internet should be a given.
“We pay thousands of dollars to attend this wonderful university, and all the average student asks for is a strong and consistent internet connection,” Donley said. “I think that MizzouWireless has had its ups and downs but is ready to be replaced by TigerWiFi.”
However, Fredman said he is not quite ready to drop his data plan and rely on MU’s internet.
“I really don't know how I feel about the TigerWiFi upgrade,” Fredman said. “I will believe it when I see it in the fall.”