Wireless problems frustrate Elis

A growing number of Elis have had persistent problems connecting to Yale wireless this year, according to interviews and a recent poll conducted by the News.

Since the beginning of the school year, students said Yale wireless connectivity has become increasingly unpredictable, sparking widespread discontent among hundreds of Yalies interviewed and polled. Overall, 57 percent of undergraduates said they were not satisfied with Yale wireless, according to the poll sent out Monday night. Of 354 respondents, 71 percent reported problems accessing Yale wireless (without a LAN, or wired, connection) once a week or more.

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But despite student claims that there is a problem, Yale Information Technology Services has not detected “any broad performance problems with the wireless network,” David Galassi, director of ITS network services, said in an interview with the News on Wednesday. ITS installed new wireless access points around campus last summer, part of an ongoing project to implement campuswide wireless, he said. The new routers, he added, do not seem to be connected to the student-reported issues.

Galassi added that ITS will nonetheless investigate students’ reports in an attempt to address the issue.

“It is clear that a number of students are experiencing problems with the wireless network,” Galassi said. “ITS continues to investigate these reports … Additionally, we are performing an extensive analysis of all components of the wireless network.”

Students said in interviews and comments on a recent poll conducted by the News that, in addition to the inconsistent ability to connect to wireless, they are primarily frustrated by the slow connectivity speed once online. Many respondents also took issue with the lack of wireless connectivity on Old Campus. (Old Campus is part of the 20 percent of campus that does not currently have wireless coverage, but will be outfitted with wireless access points this summer, Galassi said.)

Inconsistent wireless connectivity is a recent phenomenon: Seventy percent of students first began having problems with wireless in the past year, according to the poll.

“This year [wireless] is a constant on and off, and when it’s on, it’s abysmally slow,” Danny Fierro ’10 said. “I’d say maybe at least three-quarters of the time, I’m in the process of getting kicked out and have to reconnect.”

Despite their grumblings, few students have actually taken steps to get the problem fixed: Galassi said ITS has received fewer than 25 formal student complaints about wireless for the entire academic year.

Still, students interviewed who did reach out to ITS said they did not receive a helpful or concrete answer.

When Tomas Rua ’10 went to talk to the student techs in Bass Library, he said was told there was nothing they could do. He said the student techs told him they had brought the issue to ITS’ attention, but to no avail.

“Essentially, they were telling me, ‘Sorry, no luck, you’re going to have to live with it,’ ” Rua said.

Many students said they initially blamed their computers for the malfunctioning wireless. Fierro said when he first began experiencing connectivity problems, he took his computer to Apple, only to be told his wireless worked fine. He subsequently took his computer to student techs on two different occasions last fall, but, like Rua, was told nothing could be done, he said.

But Rua and Fierro are in the minority. Most students, unsure of who to talk to about the problem, simply put up with the wireless problem as best they can.

“I guess in a way, I don’t really know who I would talk to [to fix the problem],” Alyssa Nguyen-Phuc ’10 said. “What am I going to say? ‘Dear Yale, your Internet has kind of stopped working’?”

Galassi said ITS submitted a letter Tuesday to the News, outlining how students can report wireless connectivity problems. In addition to their end-of-the-year student technology survey, which will now include specific questions about wireless, ITS has created a new online form that allows students to directly report wireless problems they experience. The form can be found at www.yale.edu/its/stc/wireless. Such feedback, Galassi said, will allow ITS to gather data about the extent of the problem and address student concerns more effectively.

Chuck Powell, the senior director of Academic Media and Technology, said ITS has been working to make wireless available on campus for several years, but has recently stepped up its efforts.

Currently, Galassi said, 80 percent of the campus has wireless coverage — up from 40 percent at the end of the spring 2008 semester.


  • Y07

    To borrow a phrase from Louis CK, how quickly people go from never having something before to demanding that it is owed to them. Nobody's ever happy!

  • yalie

    It's true! I am an Eli and I am frustrated with wireless!

  • parent

    It is inexcusable not to provide consistent connection and adequate bandwidth for the campus. Often IT departments are way behind the curve, for a variety of reasons. Change will come about only with users' demands.

  • Anonymous

    I did my undergrad at Dartmouth, beginning in 2002. The wireless network available at Dartmouth in 2002 strictly dominates the wireless network at Yale today, in terms of both reliability and coverage.

    Dartmouth does have a history of strong IT services (proto-email was in wide use by the late 1980s), but the fact that Yale still hasn't caught up to where Dartmouth was seven years ago is not impressive.

  • Ben

    Dear ITS,

    Let me make this very simple for you to understand. My problems with wireless have occurred primarily in Bass and SML libraries during peak times. When there are a lot of people on the wireless network, it is incredibly slow. This has been happening all year. I bring an ethernet cord to Bass when I go after 8pm. You supposedly addressed this in the summer by changing Yale's network. With all do respect, it was a failure. Please work to remedy this situation.

  • Y'11

    How are we supposed to be happy when you can't even download readings from Classesv2 in the middle of Bass Library? The wireless has really been a problem…

  • Irony

    So, if there's a problem with the wireless internet, all we have to do is go online and fill out a form to report it…

  • Anonymous

    I want Adamo to win because he represents the popular will. In my campaign, I vowed to represent and ask for student opinion and do what the majority wanted.

    So in a weird extension of my idealism, I want to represent the majority: I want Adamo to win.


  • med student

    It is absolutely insane that the only network we are allowed to use at YNHH is the Guest network. It is such a pain in the behind to access this every time through the browser on a handheld instead of connecting automatically - it would be so easy to install the YaleWPA network!! Just do it already!! for real

  • The Reader

    People lose their connection once a week? So do I - and I am on wired ethernet. It is part of life on the Internet. I suggest people complain less, save more often, and get on with their work.

  • Y'11

    And the Yale webemail sucks too!! Most of the time, it asks me to log in over and over again.

  • Arthur

    With all the time #5, Ben, seems to spend in the libraries, I'm surprised he doesn't know the difference between "do" and "due."

  • Anonymous


    You can always write down or remember the details of the problem, and fill it out in your room using your wired connection.

  • Some1FromITS

    Thank you YDN for posting this… I have been bitching to Network about the crappy wireless seen throughout the campus since the start of the current school-year and am glad to see you have brought it to their attention in a new way. Each day for the last 6+ months I have students come to me asking about wireless and really all I can say is that it was reported and Network is looking into it. I find it SHOCKING that they claim they have only had so many reports… either they are lying, or they are not keeping accurate records when users call the Help Desk. In any case, I hope that this story will get those responsible to take a good hard look at what's going on and actually take the right steps in getting it resolved. We cannot continue to ignore this problem as it has been for some time now.