By Matthew Wocks
A hidden wireless network available to students and staff offers faster speeds and more security, but therein lies the problem; it’s hidden.
When you walk into one of the four campuses with a web enabled device, you may have noticed that it connects to Centennial’s free wireless network.
But know that this unencrypted network is limited in speed and open to all.
Ken Klucha is the manager of I.T infastrucure with Centennial College. Klucha said the free wireless access is available to anyone that walks in the door and that it was designed in a way to limit speed in order to spread as much bandwidth to as many users as possible.
Klucha added that if students are having a problem with a slow wireless connection, there are solutions.
“There are authenticated wireless access services available for students and staff,” he said. “All you have to do is contact the service desk.”
Of the close to forty students polled at two separate campuses, nobody knew that the such wireless access was available, even though three quarters of them said that the open unencrypted wireless access offered speeds that were “slow”.
Currently, the help-desk at the Centre for Creative Communications campus does not have any literature or signage talking about the authenticated private access.
It was only after enquiring about private access, that the friendly staff provided instructions on how to connect.
It is also important to note that when normally connecting to wireless access, you can see the name of the network.
But in the case of the authenticated wireless access, the name is hidden and cannot be seen students or staff, adding to its secretive nature.
The good news is that once connected to the authenticated wireless access, the speeds available are up to triple of what are available on the unencrypted free access and is more in-line with the speed found on the wired computers in the labs.
So if everyone connects to the new network, won’t it slow down the network?
Centennial currently has 400 megabits of bandwidth available across the entire network. To put that in perspective, the average speed for internet users in Ontario is 12.86 megabits according to three million Canadians polled by the website netindex.com.
This may sound like a lot, but when you consider that there are four campuses and close to 16,000 students, 400 megabits really isn’t that much.
The good news is that the school plans on doubling the overall bandwidth by September. Ken Klucha said that the equipment is already in place to but the training still needs to be done.
“There has been underway for several months now to increase our overall bandwidth across the college from 400 megabits to 800 megabits and possibly even up to 1 gigabits per second,” he said.
So when we start back up in the fall, the internet should have more pep in its step.
But if it doesn’t, call or visit the service desk.