Still having Wi-Fi troubles? Check again, it may work this time.
The connectivity problem that is leaving countless UWNet users without access to the Internet is likely a software coding issue, according to DoIt officials.
Assistant Director of Network Services Dennis Lange said the process that devices go through when connecting to a network is being interrupted and not completing, resulting in issues for students.
Even though the network services team thinks they have found the likely cause of the issue, Lange said they still “do not have 100 percent certainty.” The challenge, he added, is the “randomness of the problem.” Since UWNet was never actually down, some people could connect to the server and some could not.
“It was not a particular device or a particular location or a particular piece of equipment [that experienced issues],” Lange said. “The service was always available and broadcasting, and devices were able to connect. Because of the randomness of the problem that is further upstream from the actual connecting device and the access point, one person could be connected and the person next of them may not be.”
Lange said the network’s software code was updated earlier this summer to correct security vulnerabilities and that the code operated fine until students arrived on campus, stressing the network. DoIt believes the issue was that the process devices use to connect with the network was not functioning properly, not that the Internet itself was malfunctioning.
“UWNet never went away from any of the buildings,” Lange said.
Although the issue likely occurred due to the high volume of users putting stress on a software code that had never experienced such a volume, Lange said an outage like this is not typical, even at the beginning of the year.
“We always have the potential of upgrades, enhancements and expansions that we have done to the network that exhibit new behaviors when we suddenly introduce a lot more traffic on it,” Lange said. “It is traffic that is nearly impossible to emulate or test at its full scale until that time occurs.”
Despite UW-Madison’s tweet announcing the return of the campus Wi-Fi and thanking the campus community for their patience, Lange said the issue has still not been resolved.
DoIt technologists will update the software that the wireless network uses to operate Monday night. Lange said the team has been working closely with their equipment vendor’s tech support and design engineers, but that “they have not been able to confirm that this will resolve the problem.”
Lange said DoIt’s employees have been “all hands on deck” since the problems began last Tuesday. Although they are not sure the update will fix the problem, the team of technologists, engineers and tech support will continue to work on the problem until it is resolved.
“We are moving forward now with this approach knowing that we can always go back if that in some way makes the problem different or worse,” Lange said.