UniWireless: Still A Bit Shit

31 May 2013

The University of Melbourne will undertake major improvements to its ageing IT infrastructure in a bid to provide better services for staff and students.

The University’s Network Improvement Programme aims to improve the accessibility, reliability and coverage of IT infrastructure, including the struggling UniWireless wi-fi network.

UniWireless suffers from a range of issues, including prevalent dead spots, dropouts and device compatibility problems. The current University IT Workspace Strategy acknowledges that wireless connectivity is below expectations.

The University has described current UniWireless infrastructure as ageing and inadequate for modern needs. It admits that UniWireless was established at a time when many devices and applications were “non-existent”.

Poor wireless service has long attracted criticism from University of Melbourne students.

One student told Farrago that she stopped using UniWireless because its configuration settings meant that she couldn’t connect to any other wi-fi networks.

UniWireless has been met with a weak reception from new first year students. Ned, a first year Arts student, described UniWireless as “reasonably terrible”. Another first year student told Farrago that he couldn’t connect to UniWireless with his phone, even though he could connect to it with his laptop.

However, Jacob Rodrigo, IT Officer for the Melbourne University Debating Society, said that he was reasonably satisfied with UniWireless. He was particularly content with its speeds, quotas and coverage.

“In general, I would definitely be a fan of the University wireless. It covers the majority of the campus-it goes all the way out to South Lawn, which is nice”, Rodrigo said.

The current University IT Teaching and Learning Strategy envisions a renewed wireless service.

“The Parkville precinct will have a robust, reliable and freely accessible wireless network enabling staff and students to enjoy genuine mobile access”, says the strategy.

Improvement works have already been undertaken, with wireless coverage having received a boost. The University has also improved accessibility, with the new Connect2UoM service enabling students to set up their devices without having to seek assistance from IT.

The scale and range of devices using the network at Parkville presents a unique challenge for the IT department.

“What is unique about the University of Melbourne’s wireless network is that it is one of the larger wireless networks in Australia with large geographical areas and a diverse customer base which poses many challenges”, says the University.

This is part of the reason that students at other universities have a different experience of their wireless service. Students from LaTrobe University described their wireless service to Farrago as “pretty solid” outside of overcrowded places.

Students from Monash University described their wireless service as “generally competent”, but said that it could be very sporadic, becoming extremely slow in some places.

The University’s IT works have already received a positive reception from students.

Mr. Rodrigo particularly welcomes the new Connect2UoM service. “You can get UniWireless up and running on your device in like ten seconds. You used to have to take hours of messing around with IT to do that”.

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