New wireless devices causing connection problems on campus

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 | 2:17 p.m. CDT; updated 11:32 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 24, 2011

COLUMBIA—  An “explosion of wireless devices” has strained wireless services to the breaking point on campus, the director of MU’s Division of Information Technology said Wednesday.

“We are slammed with needs for Internet protocol addresses because there are so many new wireless devices,” Terry Robb said.

University of Missouri IT technicians fixed a problem with the “Start Here- Mizzou Wireless” network for new users Monday by increasing the number of IP addresses available to new users and decreasing the amount of time allowed on that IP address.

But that only took care of one of three problems.

This year, the wireless network is hosting about 3,700 devices at any given time, Robb said, up from about 900 devices at any given time last year. Robb noted that one person could be carrying three or four devices.

Students are carrying phones, e-readers, laptops and tablets and each device requires a unique IP address, Robb said. Last year, it was mostly phones and notebook computers using the wireless network.

“We don’t have a limit on the total number of IP addresses for wireless. We just need to allocate them properly,” Robb said, adding that his division is still trying to figure out which buildings have the heaviest network traffic.

There are only so many IP addresses assigned to each building on campus Robb said. The challenge has been increasing the number of IP addresses for those high-traffic spots, he said.

Wireless users can call 882-5000 to report where on campus they are experiencing problems with the network.

To make matters worse, a “bug” in the software that controls where wireless connections are routed is causing the central wireless control equipment to be overloaded. For wireless users on campus, this means that the equipment is unable to process network connection requests. IT technicians on campus were working to reconfigure the problematic software.

Technicians were hoping to have the problems with Mizzou Wireless resolved by the end of Wednesday.

“We want to get it done as fast as we can,” Robb said.

Mizzou Wireless users can access status updates from the MU Division of IT on Twitter or the UM IT systems status website.

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