Spotty wireless afflicts campus

State-of-the-art technology covers every inch of the Emerson College campus with wireless Internet, computer labs and the latest software, but some students have had trouble even logging onto the Emerson wireless network.

Richard Grossman, director of networking and telecommunications for the information technology department, said the problems at 120 Boylston St. originated with the space now occupied by two elevators between the first and sixth floors. Before the elevators were installed two years ago, transmitters broadcasted wireless signals from that spot.

“You don’t have to move all that far [from a radio] before your bandwidth starts stepping down,” Grossman said.

Grossman said the issue of bad connec tions along the backside of the two large elevators in the library was still “ongoing,” although some revisions had been made to the radio locations.

Ren Long, a freshman writing, literature and publishing major, said she always uses a hard-wire connection in her room.

“Wireless cuts in and out sometimes,” Long said. “I figure why bother when I have an Ethernet cable.”

The main problems with potentially spotty wireless Internet connections stem from issues the IT department cannot always control, Grossman said. Other transmitters in the immediate area could interfere with receivers of the Emerson network, and certain types of computers be less able to pick up signals. Grossman said computers such as the Apple G4 PowerBook were “notoriously bad at picking up signals.”

When they are able to access the Internet, some students have had trouble using WebCT, a Web portal designed to allow teachers to post assignments and grades and to allow students to submit papers.

Freshman TV/video major Matt Fetonti said he has had problems in the past with the portal. Fetoni said the site is not compatible with all Internet browsers.

Grossman said WebCT was often behind in the latest browser releases and updates. Newer editions such as Mozilla’s Firefox 2 and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 7 are not yet compatible with WebCT, according to WebCT’s online list of compatible browsers.

“When I click on the link, it won’t open,” said Ariel Tweto, a freshman broadcast journalism major. Tweto said she uses Safari on her Mac computer.

Grossman asked students and faculty to call the Help Desk if they do find any areas of the campus where they cannot receive a signal.