Throughout the past few weeks, George Mason University students living in the dorms have experienced difficulty connecting to MasonResNet, Mason’s residential wireless internet network. The problem has been especially prevalent around the Northern Neck residential area.

“When we install wireless access points in a new building, it’s difficult to tell exactly how many we need and where they should be located until the building is occupied,” said Randy Anderson, director of Network Engineering & Technology. “It has become apparent that Northern Neck requires additional access points to provide good service, so we are working to add more.”

ResTechs in the building, who stopped by when the problem was first being reported, were unable to fix it and suggested the use of Ethernet cables as an alternative. Even though the cable provides students with a hardwired connection to the internet, it is often slower than wireless.

“Our staff is actively working on a plan to add more access points to fix weak signal areas in all residence hall buildings,” Anderson said.

Though over 90 percent of the Mason campus has had wireless Internet access since 2004, there are still problems to be addressed. Some areas of campus are particularly difficult for wireless capability due to location or construction, such as the Student Apartments and the University Townhouses on Chain Bridge Road.

Many residents do not own Ethernet cables and are hesitant to invest in them.

Students instead prefer to wait and see if they can regain their wireless connection, which they also say is more convenient to use on campus.

“The truth is that wireless service is not, and may never be, as secure and reliable as a wired connection due to inherent limitations in the technology,” Anderson said. “You will always get the best performance from a wired connection.”

The majority of residents in Northern Neck claim to have lost their Internet around Sept. 21.

“We actually thought about getting our own connection because we need the Internet,” said Meg Patrick, a senior living in Northern Neck.

“Our Network Operations group has been watching support calls to identify patterns, and sometime within the past two weeks determined that more access points are needed in Northern Neck,” Anderson said. The first call about issues in Northern Neck was on Sept. 8 but was not part of a pattern.

Many professors post assignments on Blackboard and communicate by e-mail, making it difficult for students with fluctuating connections to keep up with classes or communicate with teachers.

The Johnson Center offers computer labs for student use, but these are often full and are not always convenient.

“My roommate contacted housing, and then after that I think she contacted the IT people,” said Deanna Andrews, a senior living in Northern Neck. She also said though the connection had been sporadic over the past week, her entire suite lost their connection at one point.

“We just got ours back this morning [Sept. 29],” Andrews said.

The ITU Support Center maintains students should rely on an Ethernet connection with the wireless network serving as a backup.