Wi-Fi Woes: Dealing with Fordham’s Failing Internet


Published: September 22, 2010

After my usual procrastination routine, I finally got around to writing my English paper as the Labor Day holiday was coming to a close. The paper was due the next day; unfortunately, by “next day” I mean at midnight. Finally, I was ready to submit it to my teacher’s email. The clock stood at 11:45 p.m. when I began the lengthy process of loading my.fordham.edu to acces my email account.

Five minutes later, a page finally popped up requesting that I perform my third compliance scan of the day. I played another waiting game with the wi-fi connection while uploading my Word document. It was 11:59 p.m. when I punched my computer in the face/screen.

Imagine if uploading a simple Word document took as long as reading the entire document itself. It makes you want to throw your computer out of your McMahon apartment window and then listen to the gratifying sound of it shattering on the pavement. But your computer is not at fault here. It is the wi-fi connection that never seems to work when you need it.

Many, myself included, complain about how unstable the connection is. Others, including freshman Gattlin Miller, have expressed concerns over a wi-fi dead zone in their apartment, caused by the elevators and stairwells that surround their fifth floor suite. Speed, however, is the most pertinent issue. Visiting speedtest.net is a great way to check your speed.

The results, unfortunately, will be anything but “great.” Download/upload speeds were just 4.29 Mbps and 4.23 Mbps, respectively.

To address the concerns Fordham students have expressed about the wi-fi network’s performance, I reached out to Fordham IT. Enter Jeff. He is a Resident Technology Consultant (RTC) as well as a computer science major at Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH). I spent an hour extracting answers from him to the above-listed concerns.

Jeff decided to group the first two issues, unreliable service and “dead zones,” together. Apparently, both are explained by interferences, such as microwaves, other wi-fi routers not belonging to Fordham, metal objects and other items which interfere with radio waves (which is the heart of wi-fi).

But these are all everyday objects that should have been considered when planning the wi-fi network’s layout! Jeff mentioned that over the past summer, FIT went through the entire campus, checking signal quality to improve connectivity. Therefore, you should contact Fordham IT in SL19A and have them come check your room’s connection quality if you have issues!

Still lurking in the background is the speed issue. With the tuition we are paying, we are entitled to reasonable internet speed. Jeff, when asked about the speed we could/should be getting, stated that “our router’s maximum speed right now… is 54Mbps.” It seems what we are getting is few megabits/second for our tuition/second. Reference my speed test shown earlier which displays my upload/download speed as being no more than 4.29 Mbps. Certainly not the 54 Mbps our network is supposedly capable of.

For a moment, recall the discussion from earlier about all the things that can interfere with your wi-fi signal. What cannot be impacted by invisible radio waves traveling through the air? If you happened to have guessed Ethernet cables, you were right. This type of connection runs through cables in the walls that connect to your computer via an ethernet cable (sold separately). It is a formidable system which is not impacted by this radio waves business. The speed test shows download/upload speeds of 15.19Mbps and 0.95Mbps!

Unless you want to be more generous when it comes to seeding your pirated torrent files, this type of internet connection is for you. The slow upload speed may be a drawback for some but the download speed is blazing fast compared to the sad wi-fi. Put away the non-alcoholic beverages and stop celebrating for a second, though. Jeff is back to encourage us to “note that most internet downloads are limited by the server that is providing them.  That is, Amazon will be slower sending me things than I am at accepting them.” Therefore, even though you have the capacity to suck up a copy of “The Hangover” from the internet in under a minute (FIT does not endorse pirating) you are limited by the upload speeds of the website that is providing you the content. But trust me, that won’t be a problem. After grabbing an ethernet cable in desperation, I was able to send my English teacher that essay in about a minute (most of which was spent setting up the connection). Problem solved? Indeed.