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The Blue & Gray Press | September 24, 2017

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Bullet Fed Up with Internet Outages

On Monday morning students on campus and in the surrounding area experienced Internet outages…again. Apogee confirmed via e-mail that the outage lasted from around 7:28 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and was caused by a fiber cut, though the location of the cut was not determined.

This is just another thread in the constant Internet problems that students have encountered here at UMW. About a month ago the Internet went down on a Wednesday night for about an hour, bringing the Bullet production to a halt as we all waited for access back to our final source of fact checking and our website.

Twice a year, when it is time to sign up for classes online through Eaglelink for the following semester, there are constant Internet problems as the site can’t handle the massive influx of users all at once. Many people are forced to sit and repeatedly click refresh, hoping that they are one of the lucky few who will suddenly gain access to the site. For those who aren’t lucky, they end up having to scour the website for hours on end in the coming weeks, ready to pounce should someone drops a class that they need.

It is understandable to encounter some Internet issues every once in a while, but unfortunately the problems have become much too frequent. Students are much too reliant on the Internet. To get things done, we shouldn’t have to click on Internet Explorer or Firefox and cross our fingers, hoping that it works.

The students are not the only ones who have been hurt by the Internet woes, as professors have had the Internet down during classes and were unable to access PowerPoints they had previously emailed to themselves or they are unable to access online sources.

There has to be a way for Apogee to provide better, more reliable Internet service. The campus is just too dependent on a trustworthy, fast Internet for these issues to continue. If Apogee cannot provide a better service, then maybe it’s time the University switches to a company who can.

Comments

  1. Firstly, Apogee doesn’t provide Internet service to the academic and administrative buildings, Cox does.

    Secondly, most of the time, infrastructure outages; water, gas, power, Internet, are not caused by equipment failures or negligence, but environmental issues, eg., a power line fell, a utility line was cut accidentally (as was the case in this situation), or a water main froze.

    You are making errant assumptions about the nature of infrastructure, and I suggest you do more research as a team.

  2. Matt

    UMW and their ISP(s) need to get things together so these outages won’t keep happening. A couple days ago with the internet outage I talked to people in the computer lab that had come from their apartments and said the internet was out there too. It seems like there’s some sort of major network disruption almost weekly.

    Whether it’s Cox, Apogee, or someone else they need to have redundancy. Granted, the “failover” connection may be a lot lower capacity and be far slower but it it’s better than nothing and needs to exist. For electrical failures there are emergency generators or battery-backup for important things like stairway lighting, core computer systems, etc. I assume like most organizations UMW is moving to VoIP PoE phones to lower costs, but the vital offices should (hopefully) still have a landline backup – otherwise when the network goes down so would the phones.

    It’s sad that I have to consider buying a new cell phone and paying $50 a month extra for a reliable backup to the campus internet services. If it wasn’t against the terms of service people could make a fortune with something like the a MiFi (Verizon Wireless) reselling their mobile broadband when the campus network goes out.

  3. Emily

    I agree. I’m disappointed in this article. Though faulty internet connections can be very frustrating, more research would have shown that the premise of this story is not quite correct.

  4. Student

    Regardless of lack of research, this is an editorial. If you want facts, go read the articles about this topic. I’m sick of unreliable internet too, especially since the majority of our lives seem to be devoted to to using it.

  5. Since when do editorials not need to deal with facts? Yes, editorials do present a writer’s opinion, but the best opinion pieces are the ones that present and interpret facts to make a point. I may disagree with the interpretation of the facts, but at least I know that the point that’s being made (and any resulting conversation) is based in reality.

  6. Associate Editor

    Joseph, we fully acknowledge in the second sentence that the Internet was down due to an “environmental factor” by referencing the Apogee e-mail which told us that a fiber cable was cut. However, those type of random, uncontrollable outages should make students and professors say “Wow, the Internet is out. How weird!” rather than say “This again?” However, the latter response is the typical one for most members of the University community.

    We have heard continual complaints from students about Internet service in both the academic buildings and residence halls, which have been covered in several articles this semester, none of which have been criticized as vastly inaccurate or lacking research. For one of the many articles written we did have to run a clarification after receiving more information after going to print, which you can see in this week’s print edition.

    To the best of my knowledge, the outage last month and the multiple weak connection spots on campus are related to problems with Apogee. The service in academic buildings also has many problems, but that does not redeem the fact that I frequently have to wander around Willard with my laptop to find connection.

    If you can quote a specific line from the editorial which is factually wrong, we will gladly run a correction. However, the general frustration on campus with our technological infrastructure is real and nitpicking for perceived inaccuracies will not change that.

  7. “There has to be a way for Apogee to provide better, more reliable Internet service…If Apogee cannot provide a better service, then maybe it’s time the University switches to a company who can.”

    You are clearly blaming Apogee for the outage which affected the entire campus, which is both factually incorrect and incredibly confusing to Faculty and Staff who may now be under the impression that Apogee is to blame for the entire outage.

    The fiber optics which provide the school with an Internet connection are owned by Cox. They are neither owned nor operated by UMW or Apogee. The fiber damage was not caused by UMW, not caused by Apogee, and probably not caused by Cox.

    It was an accident. Who knows?

    I acknowledge and empathize with the frustrations concerning IT access on campus. Perhaps, however, infrastructure is changing faster than UMW can keep up.

    Considering the time allotted to them, UMW and Apogee, in general, have done a pretty good job of providing WiFi coverage on campus. If I understand correctly, Apogee has upgraded the wireless coverage in the residence halls significantly, and UMW is constantly looking for ways to tweak and optimize the network via ingenuity – in a heavily constrained budgetary environment.

    I’m sure an Apogee representative or UMW network professional would be glad to sit down and talk to a Bullet staff member about network issues. It may be a more effective approach than asking a small handful of students about their issues, quoting them, and coming to multiple erroneous conclusions from a single piece of evidence.

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