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There’s a “Light” at the End of this Slow Internet Crisis

By Isabella Gil

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As many of us may know, Niles West High School recently upgraded its wifi upon students’ return to school for the second semester. However, is this “upgrade” actually working?

On Dec. 12, the AAL Technology Help Desk announced via email that an upgraded wireless network would be in place when students came back from winter break on Monday, Jan. 9. Students received an email on Dec. 28 with their own personal access key, only allowing them to connect two devices at one time to the school’s internet. The update also made everyone connect to the same network instead of connecting to a separate network for each graduating class: rather than connecting to “NTHS-Class-20xx,” every student now connects to “NTHS-Student.”

Students were excited at first for the new update and the promise of better and faster internet for all, especially after having such slow and unreliable wifi for a long time. But coming back from break on Jan. 9, many were disappointed. Connecting to the internet proved very difficult for students; some weren’t able to connect at all.

“I was excited that we were getting faster wifi because the old one was very slow and irritating, and when I came back from break, the wifi was so much slower than it was before, and is difficult to connect to,” senior Alissa Santana said. “At this point I’d rather use my data and get yelled at by my parents. The school needs to fix the wifi soon.”

The so-called “update” has proved to have many complications, not only for students, but for teachers in classes where technology is an essential part of learning. Niles West encourages teachers to use the internet and technology in their classes, but they are finding it hard to do so due to the slow wifi, which interrupts lesson plans and wastes essential class time.

“The wifi has been frustrating in a sense that we have planned on using the wifi for research and writing, and having that processed slowed by the wifi speed is definitely not ideal, and is aggravating,” student teacher Keri Quackenbush said. “It seems like it shouldn’t be an issue, but it has been repeatedly for our class.”

Some students have even been using their own cellphone data in order to do the tasks that their teachers want during class because the school’s internet has been too slow. The slow wifi is costing kids money out of their own, or their parents’, pockets.

“When I tried to sign in to the student wifi, it wasn’t working at all, and every time I reloaded something it just wouldn’t work, so then I just decided to turn on my LTE, which I shouldn’t be wasting because I share it with my family,” freshman Aila Durakovic said. “It costs a lot of money when I go over [my data plan].”

Luckily, the internet at West will not stay slow forever; it’s almost certain that all will better soon, when the whole transition is complete.

“The new system has the newest standard, so we are on the fastest wifi standard that there is right now, which is 802.11AC. Over the course of the beginning of last week and this week, we did have some issues, but it was not with our wifi network that was the issue but rather the issue came from the outside world that caused the wifi to slow down,” student technology and application support specialist Craig Phillips said. “Our internet provider was having issues giving us a feed — or a ‘pipeline’ — of internet to our wifi devices, which was part of the issue that caused the slow wifi at Niles West to occur.”

On the other hand, the students who have been living off the “Temporary-Students,” internet will be devastated soon because this temporary wifi will be gone at the end of the month. The temporary wifi was only created for students to be able to go on their emails and to find their access key and log in to the real “NTHS-Student” network.

“The temporary student wifi will be gone at the end of this month, but it will be an open network that will be at the start of every school year because network keys will change every school year. There will be a guest network for when people come from another school, but that requires a key as well. The temporary will go away because we do not want outsiders roaming around or trying to pick up a wifi network outside of our school. Having an open network is a security risk,” Phillips said.  

Thankfully, West will be up and running soon with new, working wifi, and students, teachers, and parents will be at ease.

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