Apr 23, 2019

Campus transitions to new wireless portal system

Fresno State Technology Services implemented a new wireless portal system on Sept. 11 that allows students to automatically connect to the network after installing the new portal on their laptops or phones, changing their password, and logging in.

Jim Michael, Fresno State’s executive director of Technology Services, said these improvements to the school’s wireless system have corrected problems students were experiencing when logging in to the school’s network.

Michael credits the fix to the large number of students, who, within the last week, made the switch to the new portal. He said the new portal had 200 to 300 users before the upgrade, but now it has around 2,000 users at any given time.

“Having those students move over to [the wireless connection] ‘fresnostate’ has reduced the contention and the problems in the old environment,” Michael said. “So there’s less pain.”

Now, Michael said he urges students who have not made the switch to do so before the semester ends.

“It’s not like they need to postpone studying for that test or completing that assignment. Those things are more important,” Michael said. “But if they could please find the time this semester, to get off [the wireless network] ‘bulldogs’ and move to ‘fresnostate’ using [the new portal] SecureW2, that would be outstanding.”

As it is, Michael said the new portal is working better than its predecessor.

He said the portal change is only the first adjustment Technology Services has in store for Fresno State’s wireless Internet system. He said his team will continue to make changes to the school’s wireless system as the need and uses for technology evolve.

“We keep working on what we’re going to have to do to make sure the wireless network remains adequate for Fresno State’s needs going forward,” Michael said. “Things like [Joseph] Dr. Castro’s tablet initiative, what that will mean to wireless, and we’re analyzing that right now and doing work to plan for the next steps that are necessary to keep the wireless network appropriate for our needs.”

Michael said changes to access points in high-traffic areas could happen within the year. He said technological improvements will allow new, updated, access points that provide wireless service to more devices.

“When that comes out, it will give us the ability to support more users in any given spot,” Michael said. “Right now for instance, out in front of Starbucks [in the Henry Madden Library], we put a lot of access points out there and yet there’s still contention for those.”

Michael said replacing the servers the access points answer to is also on the agenda for the next year.

“Just because it’s time,” Michael said. “We want to do that with new uses of the wireless network in mind; like the increase in mobile devices, the interest in the tablet initiative and so forth.”

These updates, Michael said, will be a “significant investment” for Fresno State. He said his team is looking at and researching these costs in conjunction to other projects happening on campus.

“So that we can strike the right balance between how much we invest in wireless, versus how much we invest in other things students are going to need,” Michael said.

Although students received email instructions on how to configure their laptops or devices to the new portal, Michael said instructions are also available online. For installing the network portal on other devices, such as phones, Michael said directions also are available on help.fresnostate.edu.

“For instance, like for [installing the portal on] the Android device, there’s actually an app they need to get from the Google Marketplace,” Michael said.

Michael said he and a team of people, administration and faculty are working on strategic plans for implementing further information technology.

“As we see what’s coming, we can all look at that together; share our perspectives,” Michael said. “And as we make decisions about what needs to change, we can do that in an informed way, where we have a meaningful conversation about what’s the best thing for Fresno State and our students.”

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