Near the end of February, students should have noticed an email from Dean of Students John Downey highlighting improvements coming to campus for students. Included among the improvements Downey touted were new high speed fiber-optic internet cables that were to be slowly implemented over the next several months.
Those high speed fiber lines Downey talked about weren’t brand new ones, however. Instead, they are upgrades to preexisting fiber-optic lines, according to Queens Chief Information Officer Brian Baute.
Fiber-optic internet service is faster than traditional cable or satellite internet service. For people in Charlotte, it has become a topic of conversation as Google Fiber has brought the service to select neighborhoods in Charlotte.While Google Fiber is offering services in Myers Park, even working as close to campus as Radcliffe Avenue, Google only provides their internet service to residents, says Baute. While Queens can’t get Fiber, it does have other fiber internet providers in Charlotte it can go to.
Queens gets its internet from MCNC, and that isn’t changing with the upgrades to the cables. MCNC, or Microelectronics Center of North Carolina, is a nonprofit that provides internet to a network of North Carolina universities. It has provided these services to Queens specifically for 20 years. Even though the provider isn’t changing the improvements should still be noticeable, says Baute, as the newer cables are faster and remedy issues of wear.
Of course, high speed cables aren’t all a school needs for a fast and reliable internet connection. Wi-Fi is used by most students most of the time, which means without Wi-Fi access points the fiber improvements are meaningless. However, Baute feels confident that Queens is supplying sufficient Wi-Fi coverage.
“[Queens has] increased Wi-Fi access points around campus by almost triple in the past few years,” he said.
The sheer amount of Wi-Fi access points around campus is necessary to overcome difficulties caused by the age of buildings. Wi-Fi signals can be blocked by thick walls and stairwells, and in buildings of any age elevator shafts pose similar issues.
Problems with Wi-Fi connectivity can be caused by a range of problems, some of which the upgraded cables should alleviate somewhat. A lot of issues, however, can be solved with simple fixes such as disconnecting the device from Wi-Fi and reconnecting it a moment later.
As for the improved fiber-optic cables, they will be coming online in waves. The first group of improved cables, around Belk Chapel, should activate not too long after the chapel renovations finish. The next set of cables, mostly the residential quad and the buildings by Albright, will come online after the Albright renovations finish. The last set, serving Wireman and Everett Library, should be activated before the end of the summer.
With so much time spent online for homework and for leisure, Queens students surely will appreciate any and all improvements to the network at Queens.