While the University is offering walk-up assistance to help students connect during the first few weeks of classes, frustration caused by dropped MWireless connections may be an issue of the past.
As students and faculty transition from the now defunct UM Wireless Network to MWireless, the University has created “help desks” to provide support for those experiencing difficulties.
The desks are organized and hosted by the College of Engineering, the Computer Showcase, Information and Technology Services, ITS Campus Computing Sites, the Shapiro Undergraduate Library and University Housing.
A combination of IT staff and students who work at the Computer Showcase and other Campus Computing Sites will be working through January 19 to address connectivity issues.
The desks are located in Angell Hall, the Undergraduate Library and Pierpont Commons. These organizations have provided a full list of hours, so students can get help at the place and time most convenient for them. Palms said in the future, help desks will likely be set up at the start of the fall and winter semesters.
MWireless was implemented in 2009 and is the preferred Wi-Fi network at the University. Information and Technology Services made MWireless the University’s premiere Wi-Fi network over the summer to continue the process of phasing UM Wireless Network out.
As a result, incoming students with new devices were not be able to access UM Wireless Network, forcing more and more people to start connecting to MWireless.
However, problems connecting to the new network can arise when a Kerberos password, such as the kind used to access University sites like CTools, is not synchronized with other types of account passwords.
Though this issue can be overcome by logging onto weblogin.umich.edu and selecting “Change Your UMICH Password,” not all complications are as simple to troubleshoot.
Andy Palms, ITS executive director of communications systems and data centers, can update a new device in about 60 seconds, but said the average person will spend about five minutes trying to connect even if all goes well.
“There’s a lot of benefit to it, but the initial configuration is not what people normally expect,” he said.
Palms said a difficult setup for an IT employee might take 15 minutes — and it may take even longer for someone not familiar with the system.
While the setup process might be challenging, Palms said there are many benefits of MWireless that are not available when using UM Wireless Network. Devices that have been set up to access MWireless connect automatically — no sign-in required. In addition, the network is encrypted so that messages and information sent by users cannot be seen by outsiders trying to access it.
Heather Kipp, ITS marketing communications specialist, said because many students receive new electronic devices like computers, tablets and smartphones as presents over the holidays, the help desks can help ensure all these new devices have access to MWireless when students return to campus.
“Walk-up desks give students an opportunity to configure them with a staff person manning the desk to make sure they connect to MWireless properly,” Kipp said.
However, Palm said new measures cannot solve all Wi-Fi-related problems. Especially in residence halls, people with their own Wi-Fi networks, such as those in some printers, can have trouble connecting because the networks interfere with each other.
“We want to make sure people know help is available, but we can’t guarantee that we can solve all problems because there are other devices that inherently conflict with our network,” Palm said. “For people to have a good experience with Wi-Fi, what we need to do is just provide a fair amount of access to help desk services. That’s what we’re working to ramp up.”