Campus-wide internet outage


Back in mid-January, UW-Parkside students were notified by email that some regularly scheduled maintenance on the campus’ wireless network would be performed, causing a short period of network outage on January 26. Unexpectedly, a second network outage occurred the next day. So, what sort of alterations to the networks have been made, and what happened on January 27?

The network

Campus Technology Services (CTS) is the organization on campus responsible for the installation of the WiFi network at UW-Parkside. The Chief Information Officer of CTS, Jordania Leon-Jordan, who responded to the Ranger News via email, wrote that CTS “worked closely with vendors and suppliers to design and implement the wireless network in 2010.” Today, the CTS team alone maintains and upgrades the network infrastructure.

That infrastructure is woven in a tight net throughout the buildings on campus to provide comprehensive internet coverage. The system works via a multitude of wireless access points. There are 500 of these access points in total; 190 of them provide service to the residence halls, and the remaining 310 devices are scattered throughout the other buildings on campus. From these access points, data is sent to two redundant wireless controllers in the CTS datacenter and finally to the world wide web.

Internet speeds to increase

Leon-Jordan stated that “the CTS team performed regularly scheduled, routine maintenance and upgrades on hardware and software on campus,” in regard to the work done in January. Among the upgrades was an enhancement to the campus wireless network, a virtual lab computer image update, a storage controllers improvement and an upgrade to the campus firewall. Windows updates were also installed on campus computers.

Those upgrades were the last in the second phase of a larger campus network and wireless upgrade project. Work started on the effort last year when—in the first phase—Ranger Hall and Pike River Suites were fitted with new access points to bolster connection speeds. In December of 2017 through January of 2018, similar improvements were made in Molinaro Hall.

Leon-Jordan wrote that in that same period “state of the art equipment” was installed which “increased the network bandwidth speed on Pike River Suites, University Apartments, and the Student Center. This will improve the experience for all users on those buildings.”

Additionally, Wyllie and Greenquist hall will be fitted with network improvements this summer. Leon-Jordan asserts these upgrades too will deliver a “much improved experience for our students.”

An unlikely perpetrator

Though CTS has upgrades aplenty, technological hiccups can still cause a stir. The source of the unplanned internet outage that occurred on January 27 was quite counter-intuitive: the anti-virus software installed on campus computers. The program—Malwarebytes—installed an update that morning that caused traffic from the affected campus computers to be wrongly identified as malicious; however, the quandary was quickly resolved.

Additional information regarding CTS and the internet infrastructure on campus can be found at their website: One can be made aware of future outages in the “News and Outages” section of their site.

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