Fordham’s New WiFi A Major Success

Fordham students have spoken: they love the new WiFi. “It’s significantly faster,”  Walsh Hall resident Scott Abuso FCRH’16 said, “There were days I couldn’t load a YouTube video on the old network. Now I can watch full movies on Netflix. Loading documents for class has been much easier [too].”

D.J. Sheehan FCRH’16, another Walsh Hall resident, also had positive things to say about the new WiFi system. “I’m now able to live stream sports, TV shows and movies without having to use the wired connection,” Sheehan beamed.

This change did not happen overnight, though. Over the Christmas break, Fordham IT worked diligently to enhance the WiFi on both the Lincoln Center and Rose Hill campuses. An email sent out to Fordham students upon their return to campus from Deirdre Dillon, Director of Customer Relations and Student Technology, said Fordham IT replaced over 200 wireless Access Points in Residence halls at both Rose Hill and Lincoln Center over the break. When I spoke with Network Services Director, Mark McNeil, he told me the exact number was 250.

“The new units provide increased bandwidth out to each student and help us manage the airspace by shifting bandwidth away from devices that are idle to devices that are currently in use,” McNeil said. “We intend to create microcells using these new units to cover a much smaller area and provide greater bandwidth.”

The greater the bandwidth and the more bandwidth that is available per student, the faster the WiFi will be. The new APs have given Fordham students much more bandwidth per student, which is why many are seeing their WiFi perform much faster since they returned.

With the new APs came other changes to Fordham’s network as well. Students might have noticed they now have a new wireless network connection they can login to entitled Fordhamwifi. McNeil says that everyone should be using this new connection as opposed to the old ones.

“The majority of students are still on FORDHAMRH and anyone can access it because there is no password,” he said. “Students should be using FORDHAMRH-S or Fordhamwifi more than FORDHAMRH because you actually need an SSID and a password, but Fordhamwifi is the one that everyone should be using.”

Dillon has also put a plan in place to make sure students know that Fordhamwifi is the network to be on. “The Resident Technology Consultants are talking to the students about wireless and asking them to move over to Fordhamwifi for better connectivity,” he explained.

Another change came in an email sent out by Stephen Flynn, Director of User Support Services, which said students would only have to authenticate using their username and password once a month to get on the network, something that previously needed to be done once a week. For many students this was the best change, because many thought it was a hassle to sign into the network every week, like Walsh Hall resident Mike Trotta FCRH’16.

“I think it’s simpler and just easier than having to put in the passwords every week,” he said. And even though students are singing in once a month, the network is just as secure.

“This is a change for the good,” Dillon said, “I have every confidence that we will be just as secure, maybe even more so.” 

While there have been these vast improvements, the job is not over yet. McNeil and his staff are currently still working on Finlay Hall at the Rose Hill campus and McMahon Hall at the Lincoln Center campus. McNeil says the older buildings like Finlay, which he calls a “beast of a building, are tough for the APs to penetrate due to their concrete block and masonry tile structure. He says that he has mapped out the building, and will now analyze it to see what approach needs to be taken. He says he plans on tackling both Finlay and McMahon as soon as possible.