Wits students are finding the WiFi coverage on campus far from satisfactory – and are not likely to see an improvement for at least the rest of this year.
Internet accessibility and reliability has become an increasing issue as the growing cost of staying connected has led many students to rely heavily on campus WiFi. Computer staff at Wits recognise the problem, but “budget constraints” and the fact that the “budgetary cycle has passed this year”, mean improvements will not happen before next year.
Acting director of Computer and Network Services (CNS), Xolani Hadebe, said the department was in the process of completing a blueprint. This is “a plan which looks at what needs to be done at the university to improve the WiFi systems [and] get blanket coverage of the whole university”. The blueprint would also assess how much work needed to be done to improve WiFi on campus.
CNS understood the need for accessible WiFi, he added. “WiFi is mandatory”. Commenting on the availability of WiFi at different hotspots around campus, Naeem Vallee, 1st year MBBCh, said the best place to get strong WiFi signal was at the Matrix. “It’s pretty fast when you get it but it’s not always accessible. When it’s too slow I have to use my own mobile data which is inconveniencing.”
Nishal Dullabh, 1st year MBBCh, said he did not use the Wits WiFi often because of the difficult registration process. Other students reported using mobile data because the WiFi access points were few and far between. There was no accessibility in some of the lecture halls in Umthombo building, Senate House basement and the Oppenheimer Life Sciences building.
Princess Khumalo, 3rd year BA, said: “It’s a problem if you’re in class and you want to follow [the lecture] along with the slides [which are posted online for students]. It would help if they could just make the network more accessible in places that are underground.”