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Friday, November 16, 2018

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What’s going on with the campus Wi-Fi?


The campus Wi-Fi has been spotty as of late. | File Photo/The Cougar

Students throughout campus have had difficulty connecting to and remaining on UH’s Wi-Fi throughout the past week, but University Information Technology is on the case.

Aruba is the company responsible for providing on-campus wireless networks. Davis W. Johnson, the assistant vice president of Technology Services and Support, said work to mitigate the issue is ongoing at the highest level of Aruba’s support team.

“The Aruba engineers are 100 percent certain of what the problem is,” Johnson said.

The issue is a corruption in the memory system. The Wi-Fi network is like any computer and uses memory. This shared memory allows other computers to access the network, and the subsequent corruption has caused the network to drop computers from the connection.

Johnson said there are 52 buildings across campus that use the Aruba Wi-Fi infrastructure, and the devices used in these buildings are the ones being affected, though he impact appears to be random.

Some of the buildings affected include the MD Anderson Library, both Student Centers, Bayou Oaks and Cougar Village 1. Among these are 23 other buildings that are currently having the worst issues. A complete list of affected buildings will be uploaded to the UIT website.

The issue is not campus-wide, however, and is mostly localized to the 52 buildings that make use of Aruba networks. The buildings on campus that make use of a different Wi-Fi vendor, Meru, have not been having issues.

UIT does not currently know the cause of the memory corruption.

“We on campus cannot find the problem. It is a problem the Aruba engineers have to fix,” said Director of Network Services Rita Barrantes.

Barrantes said the issue is a bug in the network controllers, which are servers that control and distribute the Wi-Fi. Because of this, it is up to the engineers from Aruba to locate the problem.

The engineers from Aruba have handled similar problems before, Barrantes said.

“In the past they were very resourceful, and they have fixed it quickly before,” she said.

Now that Aruba is aware of the issue, Johnson said, they need to make sure that any fix they apply to the network will not create more problems. Johnson said Aruba is making good progress and the Wi-Fi should be fixed soon, but there is no estimated completion timeline.

The progress of the fix is going to be communicated through the UIT website. If you are experiencing issues with the network, you can request assistance at uh.edu/uit.

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