ITS says wireless routers caused ResNet outage

Mention ResNet to students living on campus, and you’ll be met with unsatisfied grumbles. But internet performance for residential halls could be blamed on students’ personal wireless routers. ResNet access was cut for students living in Crawford and Murphy Halls and Tech Village Sept. 10 as Information Technology Services searched for the source of network disturbance. ITS is convinced that personal wireless routers are at fault.

“When a router is incorrectly installed, it spews out requests to get connected,” said Will Hoffert, assistant manager for Academic Computing Support.

“This activity impacts ResNet by generating a tremendous amount of traffic,” added Jerry Boyd, assistant director of ITS.

The traffic created by incorrectly installed routers slows down ResNet, and in most cases, leaves students unable to connect to the Internet.

Boyd also notes that ITS regularly monitors traffic generated by ResNet, and that Murphy Hall was responsible for the outage. ResNet access returned to Crawford Hall and Tech Village shortly after the network interference was pinpointed to Murphy Hall.

“We narrowed down the disturbance to eight routers in Murphy,” he said. “At least three of them were incorrectly hooked up.”

On Tuesday, Boyd confidently suggested that the student with the router circumventing ResNet will be caught “no later than the end of the week”, and mentioned that the student will be turned in to Residential Life.

Excluding the areas in Murphy Hall where ITS suspect contain incorrectly installed routers, ResNet access has since been restored to the building.

Personal wireless routers violate ResNet’s Acceptable Use Policy, which reminds students not to extend the network past the jacks provided in each residence hall and apartment.

Last Friday, Residential Life sent an e-mail to all students living on campus to address the outage. The e-mail included an official statement from ITS:

“We have had a rash of rooms connecting prohibited devices to the network, particularly wireless routers. We have spent many hours trying to remediate problems caused by these devices. In most cases, our only recourse is to take an entire building, or buildings, down until we can isolate the offender. This is obviously not fair to residents who are doing things correctly.”

While ITS has the authority to confiscate routers and report them to Residential Life, Boyd is simply concerned with wanting “the network to run and run well.”

Installation for wireless access points in all residence halls is slated for spring 2010.