Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Laney ready to dial up the Wi-Fi

    Students to log on to consistency, faster speed

    For years, Wi-Fi access on campus, a standard feature of colleges nationwide, has frustrated Laney students with inconsistent connections and low bandwidth. 
    However, thanks to funds obtained through Alameda County’s 2006 Bond Measure A and the shared governance process, Wi-Fi on campus is about to get faster and more available, according to IT Administrator Antoine Mehouelley.
    “Most of the colleges (in the district) have some kind of Wi-Fi network,” says Mehouelley says, “but Laney never had a Wi-Fi plan or project.
    “It was on the IT strategy since 2009, but only recently did we have strong advocacy from faculty and students. Before we just put some Wi-Fi access points around without considering density, security, and a quality experience using Wi-Fi at Laney.”
    “The technology committee came together and made it a priority that we should have some type of Wi-Fi standards. What was different about this project, something that never was done, is that we involved the faculty and students. Most of the time these are decisions made by IT folks.” 
    Mehouelley details how students were involved in the decision-making process, saying, “We brought all three vendors, Sysco, Aruba, and Aerohive…they all had a live demo here (in the tower building). We invited students and faculty…everybody asked questions and rated each company.”
    The consortium rated Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Aerohive the highest, and Mehouelley agrees with the choice, because of “the total cost of ownership going forward and due to the way they approach the technology.”
    “Aerohive is based on a network of somewhat autonomous access points…the Hive Manager software can be accessed at any of those points,” he says, while the other two companies “are based around a central control access…which requires an additional $65,000 in backup equipment.”
    The Hive Manager software is what lets Mehouelley and other administrators monitor a major factor in designing college internet access — illegal downloading. 
    “Sometimes I get four or five emails a day from Cenic (internet provider for colleges statewide) about suspicious activity on the network. The movie industry or someone reports an illegal download from our IP address,” he says.
    Preventing piracy on campus must be a priority, Mehouelley says, otherwise “they (content owners) can sue the district.”
    Mehouelley explains that Aerohive gives the administration the ability to block the Torrent programs that allow users to download mass amounts of data. “With Aerohive I can see how many students are using the Wi-Fi at any given place and time, and the most often downloaded applications. If we see abuse of the system we can shut down the access.”
    Another feature of the software is the ability to track data on student Internet usage. “Our purpose is to look at how to share that data with faculty so they can see where students go to get their information and tailor instruction around their interests,” Mehouelley says.
    He seeks to reassure students that there would be no violation of privacy rights. “We don’t look at where (individual students) go, we’re looking at the metadata.”
    Mehouelley goes into a bit more detail about the improvements in the new system. “The range of how many users can connect at once has increased tremendously, and the range of access is wider,” he says.
    “The technology has improved (with the old system) individual access points would conflict with each other in delivering data; the new system allows them to communicate and learn from each other to handle the data load.”
    Mehouelley mentions that with a 500,000-square-foot campus, Wi-Fi access points will be chosen carefully. “We’re focusing on instructional access, so that each classroom has consistent Wi-Fi access for students and faculty,” he says.
    Wi-Fi delivery to high usage areas like the Student Center, Forum, and library will also be a priority, he says.
    According to Mehouelley, the project is expected to reach completion by this fall. “Stay tuned,” he says. “By the completion of the project I’m confident the students will have a much better experience with Wi-Fi.”
    The project is expected to cost around $365,000 for equipment and installation, with a $35,000 cost of maintenance and support over the next five years.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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