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libraries, students, technology, universities

Two-Tiered System Sucks

I know when Canadians see the word two-tiered they often bring to mind the discussions surrounding privatized healthcare, but that’s not what is bothering me today.

My place of work has a two-tiered system in place for its wireless access. Both campuses have wireless internet that students, faculty and staff can access on their own laptops as well as ones that the libraries loan. Laptop lending is quite popular since computing resources are always in demand.

This past year, the IT department has invested time and money to create a second wireless network on campus, with intentions of expanding it to cover the area between the two (6.3 km apart according to Google maps). A noble idea, providing wireless in this corridor, but I’m not sure what their true intentions were. This second wireless network supposedly uses newer, stronger technology and only students are allowed to subscribe for about $120/yr. That’s right, it’s a subscription service, and it’s not even available for faculty or staff yet. They are charging students for wireless. Coincidentally, coworkers here noticed the standard wireless start to go wonky when that system started up.

The IT folks were working on the wireless all weekend, but I guess they didn’t get enough done and there’s been sporadic service yesterday and today. Actually worse than sporadic. They obviously need to do a lot of work to keep it up and running so why did they waste resources on creating the new network? Especially now since reports have been leaked that not that many students are using the new network; most still rely on the free one. And I use ‘free’ loosely since after all, isn’t tuition and student fees a main source of revenue that these folks use as their budget? It’s almost like they’re double-dipping into students’ pockets.

I am so tired of explaining to students that the wireless isn’t working. So much so that I told one of the last ones that came to the reference desk to ask about the wireless that I wished the students would start a campaign against the computer folks. She asked why, so I told her how the paid-for service is a lot more reliable than the regular service.

In my wildest dreams, I would have the university form a partnership with Ile Sans Fil to provide free wireless for all, not just students and faculty, but that will never happen; Security precautions are extremely strict here (hence the Facebook blocking). I guess I’ll just keep smiling and telling frustrated students that there’s nothing we can do.


About Jen

An instructor, a reader, a dog-owner, and advocate; that's how I define myself and these aspects directly impact my interests and conversations.


3 thoughts on “Two-Tiered System Sucks

  1. You are seeing firsthand what life would be like for everyone if Net Neutrality fails. Yuck!

    Posted by John | 7 Oct 2008, 6:09 PM
  2. Facebook blocking? Wow, our library has a Facebook application! I don’t think we block anything, even porn (but that’s just a guess … )

    The two tiered wireless sounds crazy to me.

    Posted by zydeco fish | 8 Oct 2008, 6:02 PM
  3. Facebook is blocked on the wired internet – so staff, faculty, computer labs and libraries all effected. It’s not blocked on the wireless but considering the reliability of that service, it’s not like it’s easy for students to use it.
    I believe the librarians have written our director and wanted to do something about it, but haven’t heard much else.

    Posted by Jen | 8 Oct 2008, 6:12 PM

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