UCLA Housing and Hospitality Services officials plan to continue building Wi-Fi infrastructure on the Hill to improve internet slowed down by increased device use and building designs.
An increase in the number of Wi-Fi-enabled devices on the Hill in recent years has negatively impacted Wi-Fi speed, said Valerie Vahling, the director of information technology for Housing and Hospitality Services.
“Students who previously brought one computer now may have five or 10 wireless and wired devices each,” Vahling said. “More devices sharing the same Wi-Fi signals divides the capacity and makes internet response slow or choppy.”
Vahling added that some residence halls were built before computers and wireless devices were created, so the Hill needed to adapt construction plans to include infrastructure for personal computers and Wi-Fi-enabled devices.
Patrick Zhang, a first-year undeclared student, said he originally thought his Wi-Fi connectivity problems stemmed from his computer but later found he has connectivity problems specifically while at UCLA.
“I think it’s just UCLA because when I go everywhere else, it connects fine which is why (UCLA) Wi-Fi is just annoying,” Zhang said.
Vahling said The Study at Hedrick is one of the hot spots on the Hill where Wi-Fi is typically faster.
“We saturated the space with Wi-Fi signal to provide an excellent experience for UCLA students,” Vahling said.
Zhang added he wishes Wi-Fi was more consistent across the Hill.
“It’s just certain networks are spotty and … it’s annoying how you have to log in to UCLA Wi-Fi,” Zhang said.
Vahling added that wireless signals are broadcast from multiple wireless access-point devices, which connect to a central point in each building and may broadcast networks, including UCLA_WEB, UCLA_WIFI and eduroam.
Some networks require a UCLA logon and password. Vahling said these networks are more functional and secure than an unsecured network like UCLA_WEB.
Some applications, including Apple’s default mail application, only work on secured networks like UCLA_WIFI or eduroam, she added.
Natalie Andersen, a second-year cognitive science student, said she thinks the Wi-Fi is fine but added that her roommate bought a second router to boost connectivity.
Marline Valencia, a second-year economics student, said she thinks the Wi-Fi is unpredictable.
“Sometimes it’s good and it’s fast and it works, but then sometimes it’s really slow and I don’t know if that’s because of finals and stuff,” Valencia said.
Vahling said her office is continuing to improve infrastructure on the Hill, including network devices and cabling.
“These projects can be very intrusive to the residents, so one of our greatest challenges is scheduling extended time in the buildings that does not interfere with residents,” Vahling said.
Vahling added that students can help to improve Wi-Fi on the Hill by communicating any connectivity problems to the Policy Review Board or the Student Technology Center in Covel Commons.