After requesting that students disable unauthorized Wi-fi access points in an email to the College last month, Chief Information Officer Mitch Davis said that Information Technology (IT) has witnessed improved communication with students about Bowdoin’s wireless network issues.
Students have been responsive to both Davis’ November 15 campus-wide email and the Orient’s November 22 article that called attention to the predicament. Davis and the IT department are continuing to adjust and improve the campus network based on student feedback and have added over 30 new access points—mainly in dorms—since the issue was brought to light.
“The students that had [unauthorized] access points have called me and we’re working with them,” said Davis.
In the past few weeks, Davis has also responded to multiple calls from the parents of students who have installed unauthorized access points and he is working through the issue with both parents and students to help determine an appropriate course of action.
Throughout his exchanges with these students, Davis has noticed a recurring trend: many of the access points have been installed in order to support Apple TVs.
Students have found it necessary to install their own personal access points because Apple’s digital media player operates through a Wi-fi networking system called Bonjour, which is not supported on most enterprise-class networks like Bowdoin’s, according Davis.
In an attempt to both ameliorate the personal access point issue and make Apple TVs compatible with the Bowdoin network, Davis has initiated a pilot program involving the students who already own and are using Apple TVs in their dorms.
“Right now, we’re working with Cisco to provide access to that protocol and they have solutions that they’re testing,” said Davis. “If we can do that, then we can provide Apple TV to classrooms and other places where people want it.”
One of the most salient features of Apple TV is AirPlay, a software component that provides for wireless streaming of audio, video and photos between devices. AirPlay allows users to wirelessly project their computer screen onto a television monitor, for example.
Davis continues to urge students to notify him or the Information Technology Advisory Council (ITAC) of any problems with wireless service so that they can be addressed and fixed accordingly.
In response to student-reported issues with connectivity in West Hall, IT is working on fixing eight existing access points in the dorm.
Davis reiterated that despite his wish for students’ unauthorized access points to be turned off, he will not actively shut them down at this point in time.
“I’m not going after everybody, I’m just asking them not to [install access points] if they can,” he said. “But after Christmas I’ll be harder on them—or we’ll have a better solution.