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Why, oh why, Wi-Fi?

Forget the unions, BCIT’s internet connection has been on strike for years

Ever found yourself doing this around BCIT?

Ever found yourself doing this around BCIT? Courtesy Donna Moon

Life as a BCIT management student is tough. Crammed class schedules and huge group projects stretch the capabilities of students, to the point where we need to weigh the cost/benefit/risk ratios of getting more than three hours of sleep per night.

Signing up to BCIT each semester comes with an understanding that you are in for a rough ride for the next four months. If you have a social life, put it on hold, and if you choose to join a club or volunteer for anything (which is expected), keep a picture of your loved ones in your wallet – you may only be seeing them every few weeks or so.

So you’d expect BCIT, a technology-focused institute, would not further burden its weary students with a lack of basic productivity infrastructure; say, easily accessible, well-functioning, wireless Internet access?

Most days, I have a better chance of winning the lottery than quickly connecting to a reliable Wi-Fi access point at BCIT. If I were asked to gamble between “BCIT_Secure”, “BCIT” or “eduroam” to get any work done, I’d prefer a swift kick in the crotch, thank you. It’s far less painful.

If you think last week’s strike action yielded a lot of people holding picket signs in the air and grumbling, go to the BCIT library on a busy afternoon and count the people waving their laptops in the air trying to net some precious data, also voicing their displeasure, but using more colourful language.

The situation is no better in areas like the Great Hall and SW1 foyer, popular places for students to gather to do work. At least in SW1 there’s a big TV to watch while you try download your urgent homework assignment, and a balcony to hurl your laptop (or yourself) over when it times out for the sixty-third time.

[pullquote]… parking lot spaces 1214 to 1233 just outside the SE10 Broadcasting building get good reception[/pullquote]Of course, one could always go low-tech and find a LAN point to connect to. This works quite well, if you can find a working outlet … Enjoy the feeling that it’s 2004 all over again.

These problems are basically erased if you decide to work at the Rix: With four power outlets serving the 1,512 students who pass through every day, your laptop will be dead before you can connect, anyway.

There are rumours that certain places are well covered by BCIT’s Wi-Fi. For example, I’ve heard that parking lot spaces 1214 to 1233 just outside the SE10 Broadcasting building get good reception. Be careful not to stand there too long, as Impark will slap an $80 ticket to your forehead after seven minutes.

Many business students’ work involves research, getting breaking news online, more research, checking their D2L (which I believe stands for “Desire 2 Lag”), doing research on research, managing dozens of emails and ShareOut documents, mandatory online readings, and a little bit of research on the side. The common denominator: to get any of this done, we need a functioning Internet connection.

It’s ironic this happens in an institution of technology, where business students learn the role of the Internet and connectivity in a world where we hope to land jobs soon. I could write for hours about how BCIT’s wireless infrastructure is wasting hours of students’ time and infuriating users.

But I won’t.

It’s too dangerous and difficult for me to type with one hand while holding my laptop in the air, sitting on top of the BCIT entrance tower, swearing at the world.

But hey, at least I’m connected.[hr]

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