Why is Bethel Wi-Fi so slow?

March 10, 2014 | 11 a.m.

News | Chris DeWuske

Students have experienced technical difficulties this year with Wi-Fi access in the buildings and dorms.

The situation only worsened on Feb. 19 when Bethel replaced its authentication server. Despite this outage, the real headache was caused by another issue.

ITS implemented a new RADIUS server this year that was more supportable long-term than its predecessor. Up until two weeks ago, the old server and the new server were running in tandem. This caused students to lose their ability to access the Internet when changing locations in the buildings, as their computers would hang on to certificates rather than releasing and renewing them.

Bethel is currently only running the new server. Ironically, it is Windows users who have been experiencing complications, despite the fact that the newer server is branded by Microsoft .

For users whose computers refuse to release old login credentials, this can be especially problematic. The RADIUS server is supposed to grab users’ login information and grant a certificate to authenticate the user. While the new networking device was supposed to make the web experience easier for students, it left a quarter of the student population struggling to gain access.

While the old RADIUS used Entrust certificates, the newer relies on DigiCert technology. The confusion between the two causes machines to refuse network connections.

Some students needed to uninstall all networking drivers—soft ware that tells the computer how to run Wi-Fi commands—and
restart their computers. The PCs automatically reinstall the drivers upon restart. Users then need to change their advanced networking settings for “Bethel Wi-Fi” to allow DigiCert certificates. However, these steps were not necessary for most students, and most problems were resolved by ITS, which changed a few network settings manually.

“In the last two days we have seen virtually no individuals coming in for assistance with this problem,” ITS help desk manager, Joe Herter, said last week. “Earlier in the week, we had a significant amount of traffic coming in.”

Last week, ITS made changes that should resolve the issues with Wi-Fi connectivity and is continuing to monitor new developments regarding the technical problem.

Information from Joe Herter.

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