McGill, News

McGill students frustrated with university’s frequent internet issues

Since October 2017, McGill has been rolling out its Network and Information Security Upgrade initiative. These upgrades seek to improve network infrastructure by installing new equipment and access ethernet cables throughout McGill’s buildings and creating wireless local area networks (WLANs), among other projects.

Despite these efforts, students and faculty have experienced regular connection issues. The most recent network failure on Oct. 12, which caused campus wide internet disruptions, prompted IT Services to reboot McGill’s firewalls, which the university claimed successfully remedied the issues. 

Some McGill students attest that these frequent connection issues are disruptive to their learning and parts of their everyday life. Without stable internet connection, students have trouble accessing their lectures and other class material on myCourses and are cut off from using social media to communicate with classmates, family, and friends. 

Ciara Balhi, U1 Arts, said she is often left with no choice but to connect to the guest wifi and has had to give up attending her online lectures on campus since her Zoom meetings regularly freeze.

“Cafés are definitely a safer bet,” Balhi said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “When I think I definitely have to watch lectures [live], I go to a café to be sure that the wifi will work [.…] I have to pay for it, instead of just going to the library which is free, as it should be.” 

The university’s IT Services recommends that students avoid busy areas when connected to McGill’s wifi in order to prevent videos from freezing or being choppy. However, for students living in residence, this recommendation is not always easy to follow.

Robert MacLeod, U1 Engineering, shared Balhi’s concerns regarding McGill’s wifi, adding that he frequently has to reprioritize his tasks because he cannot rely on his residence’s wifi. “I did have one case where [the wifi] just disconnected and I tried to [re]connect […] for a solid 10 minutes,” Macleod said. “Luckily, I wasn’t doing anything particularly important at the time. But, had I been in a midterm, that’s one fifth of the entire time that I have to do it that is gone [since most of my midterms are only 50 minutes long].”

The spotty wifi has posed an additional challenge for international students, many of whom rely on video call apps such as FaceTime and WhatsApp as their primary methods of contacting their families. Maisie Wynd Smith, U1 Arts and an international student, depends on McGill’s internet to contact her family at home. In an interview with the Tribune, Smith explained that for her, irregular wifi can mean isolation from her family.

“Before I had a SIM card, I would rely on the wifi. When my wifi was not working, I could not contact my parents,” Smith said. “It is just a large problem across the board […] and I just don’t see why [the wifi] is such a hard issue to fix [for McGill].”   

Frédérique Mazerolle, a McGill media relations officer, stated in an email to the Tribune that the IT Services team has been working diligently to ensure a sustained internet access this Fall. 

“We continue to monitor issues as they arise and have implemented a number of changes over the past few weeks to help address these issues and improve service,” Mazerolle said. “[In the meantime] we encourage all users to contact the IT Service Desk to report issues with any McGill IT Service.”

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One Comment

  1. Sonya Colliander

    LOVE this! Amazing writing, the perfect piece of journalism.

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