Internet problems plague students

On Oct. 7, an internet outage in East Davis involving Comcast’s Xfinity services affected many students. Comcast attributed the problem to an area-wide outage beyond their control.

This problem is a common occurrence throughout the City of Davis. A wide array of students from all over Davis have reported problems with slow or no internet connection within their apartment complexes. Common internet providers include Comcast Xfinity, AT&T and UC Davis Wi-Fi.

Whether these providers are the cause of the internet and Wi-Fi problems depends on the situation. But many students do agree that getting a good, solid connection is often very difficult, especially during midterms or finals.

“When I have internet problems it’s usually because of the wireless connection or my laptop,” said Elizabeth Chun, a third-year biological systems engineering major who uses Comcast’s Xfinity service. “It’s probably due to a bad modem connection, so my computer is to blame as well.”

Issues stem from internet provider

When asked where they think the problems are coming from, students agree that the separate internet providers are to blame rather than their apartment complexes.

“It has to be coming from the providers’ end because our apartment management [cannot] do anything about it,” Chun said.

Several management offices in Davis apartment complexes have received complaints from their tenants about the Wi-Fi lagging repeatedly.

“Usually when students come in with complaints about their internet, we try to help them figure out the problem by establishing whether it’s our issue or the provider’s issue,” said Thomas Chang, the community manager of the Avalon, Sorrento and Brisa Apartments located in South Davis. “We get a few instances where it actually is a maintenance issue with the pole-wiring system. If that’s the case, we step in and file a contract for a rewiring system.”

According to the Davis Wiki page on internet providers and usage, the quality of the cable reception and internet speed is based partly on how far one’s house is from a hub. If the home is farther than 300 feet or so, then there can be some problems with signal quality and channel reception.

“AT&T might be faster, but it shares a central hub with its users, whereas Comcast uses a single hub for each household. Everyone is wired to their own internet,” Chang said.

Student housing

Some apartments use the UC Davis network for their internet services, in which the campus provides the Wi-Fi for the residents. One example is The Colleges at La Rue.

“The internet is provided by the campus which is extremely convenient because we get lightning-fast internet without having to pay monthly network bills,” said Daniel Choi, a fourth-year aerospace engineering student who lives at The Colleges. “Even when [my housemates] are using it at the same time, the ping time is almost always a single digit number, and the test results on speedtest.net always show a network speed of 90-95 megabits per second.”

Apartments that come with campus Wi-Fi seem to have a solid internet connection, although there have been problems due to the routers. In those cases, the problems can be quickly solved by connecting an Ethernet cable from one’s computer to the wall modem socket.

“If the connection were to suddenly slow down or get dropped, I would say that something would’ve happened to the campus servers,” Choi said. “Maybe the school received a major bug or virus attack, or maybe IT accidentally pressed a button that shut the servers down, or maybe even someone like a Davis’ own ‘Mark Zuckerberg’ was hosting a huge website on the campus servers, causing an exponential increase in the campus’ web traffic and overloading the systems. But it definitely would be a problem with the campus servers.”

West Village

Apartments in West Village are also presumed to use the campus Wi-Fi, but according to Julia Ann Easley, senior public information representative of public affairs for UC Davis, they do not.

“The campus network services are not extended into the West Village residences,” Easley said in an email. “However, UC Davis does provide data, voice and wireless services in West Village office spaces where campus units are housed. UC Davis also provides some Wi-Fi services in some outdoor and common areas at West Village.”

Many students living in West Village have complained about the frequent and long internet outages in their apartments. The Facebook page for The Ramble has numerous comments from students about internet outages and low connectivity issues with Wi-Fi.

West Village uses a company called Korcett to provide network services to their student apartment complexes: Ramble, Solstice and Viridian. However, the issues with internet connection are recurring, and students claim that it takes several days to fix the problem and that they have to keep calling Korcett for help.

When asked about the internet issues, the management office of West Village declined to comment.

Finding solutions

Although the cause of the problems could be the routers, some students do not think that bad routers seem to be the issue. Due to the fact that everyone has different routers under their respective internet providers, the company could be to blame rather than the routers.

“It’s never the router’s fault, it’s always the service,” said Selah Shine, a third-year international relations student, who lives in Sorrento Apartments. “When I go on my MacBook, the Airport Utility tells me my router is working fine and that there is a disconnection problem.”

In terms of finding solutions for lagging Wi-Fi, the only options are visiting the local offices of their internet providers or calling the main 1-800 number to assist and teach them how to use their service and equipment in an efficient manner.

“I would expect them to send a person from the company to either help us on the phone or come and give us a new modem in order to do whatever they can to help us out,” Chun said.

TAMMY LEE can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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