Network failures cause campus-wide Internet outage

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hursday, September 28, the campus experienced a network failure lasting around four hours (Photo by Nouman Naveed ’19).

Mario Sanchez Castillo

A wireless network failure affected the entire campus the night of Sept. 28. The network was down for approximately four hours, from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m.

Normally, when students, faculty and staff login into Lafayette’s wireless internet, they authenticate the network with their login credentials. However, when the wifi went down, this network authentication process failed as a result of a component failure, Director of Digital Infrastructure Bill Thomson wrote in an email. 

There are many reasons why a component failure might occur. Life Wire lists some possibilities of why a component failure might occur including over current, over voltage, over temperature, incorrect connections or changes in operating environment.

International affairs professor Caleb Gallemore said he relies heavily on the internet for teaching, as he prefers not to print paper. Since much of Gallemore’s class materials are online, he postponed an exam for one of his classes that was scheduled for the next morning after the network went down.

“I put a lot of material online, and I get why students might be freaked out about it, so I gave them over the weekend and then let those who wanted to take the exam that day go ahead and take it,” Gallemore said.

The IT department is working to fix the problem and ensure it does not happen again, according to Thomson.

“ITS is evaluating the failure condition and reviewing the technical architecture to ensure adequate redundancy is in place,” Thomson wrote in an email.

According to Thomson, Lafayette continues to expand on wifi coverage, increase capacity, and address problem areas as resources and time allows. Recent focus has been on improving coverage and capacity in academic and administrative spaces.  

“Skillman library, for instance, was upgraded to high density access points to support more devices at the same time. We also recently completed wifi signal assessments in Acopian Engineering Center, Williams Center of the Arts, and Markle Hall,” Thomson wrote.

Sage Herz ‘21, who was studying for her calculus exam at the time, felt frustrated at the lack of internet connection.

“I was very much [stressed when the wifi went down] because there were studying materials that I could not access. I debated on going to my professor and asking if he [could] move the exam to another day,” Herz said.

ITS is working on stabilizing the wifi on campus in order to avoid future widespread network failures.

“We are working hard to ensure the campus has robust and reliable systems, and always encourage people to open help desk tickets if they experience any issues with the network,” Thomson wrote.