U. offers faster, more reliable wireless service
After receiving a series of student complaints about the quality of the wireless network, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) installed filters that reduce network congestion caused by unnecessary traffic. They informed the USG in December of the completed improvements to the wireless network.
“We received a few complaints through the Air Your Grievances box on the USG website indicating that this was a campus-wide issue,” USG IT committee chair Michael Yaroshefsky ’12 said in an e-mail. “I had received many more complaints by word of mouth from friends.”
The USG reported students’ concerns to the OIT administrators. Steven Sather, OIT’s associate chief information officer and director for support services, said in an e-mail that, in addition to feedback from the USG and OIT’s Help Desk, routine network performance monitoring showed increased network congestion throughout the fall semester.
OIT’s networking group found that devices using a new internet protocol called IPv6 created additional traffic on the Princeton network, which does not currently support the technology.
“IPv6 is a newer way computers may use the internet in the future, but is not widely used today,” Sather said. “Some computers, such as new Macs, come with IPv6 turned on. The network traffic they generate is basically ‘noise’ that uses up existing bandwidth.”
While some IPv6 traffic was present during the past couple of years, it increased significantly this fall. Since the technology is not used on the campus network, such traffic is “wasted,” Sather said.
The networking group was responsible for analyzing the problem and researching possible solutions. They recommended installing filters that would block IPv6 packets at each wireless access point on campus.
“We did this over a couple-week period of time, making sure that doing so did not unexpectedly break anything else,” Sather said. “That process was complete by mid-December.”
“As a result of the USG and OIT’s efforts, students should now experience improved wireless strength and reliability around campus,” Diemand-Yauman said.
Sather added that, if students experience problems with the wireless network, they should report to the Help Desk with both the specific location and time that the wireless was not working well.
“OIT staff investigate each report to see if there are additional things we can do to improve performance,” Sather said.
While OIT will continue to monitor network performance, no follow-up on this problem is anticipated.