The Unknown Facts about Tuesday and Wednesday’s Wi-Fi Outage
By, Noa Maltzman Faculty and Administration Editor
On Tuesday, September 22nd, at approximately 4:30pm students who were in the Residence Halls and apartments began noticing issues with the Wi-Fi. All night long, and into the next day, the issue of Wi-Fi on campus was a hot topic of conversation among students. The Wi-Fi outage wasn’t resolved for nearly 24 hours, and students remained largely uninformed about what was being done to fix the problem.
It was unknown by a majority of the student body that members of Skidmore’s IT department were aware of the outage and were trying to fix it, until 9:59pm when Mark Bauer, Director of Network and Technical Services, sent an email saying “We have been experiencing a widespread outage of the wireless in the Res Halls. Our partners, Time Warner Cable and Clearview are working on the issue.”
Even when the issue was fully resolved the following day, students still did not know what had been done to try and fix the issue, and what had caused the issue. Bill Duffy, Skidmore’s Chief Technology Officer, shared some insight about the IT department’s process throughout the Wi-Fi outage. He said that the “IT Help Desk was notified [at] approximately 4:45pm that a couple of individuals were having problems with Wi-Fi in the Res Halls.” At 4:53pm, the Help Desk was in contact with the Director of Network and Technical Services, Mark Bauer. Bauer then began an initial conversation with Time Warner at 5:01pm. “It wasn’t until after 6:00 pm that the full scope of the issue was determined at which time Clearview Networks [Time Warner’s Res Hall Wireless provider] was already working on a solution,” said Duffy.
The reason for the Wi-Fi outage was that “the Domain Name System (DNS) for Time Warner Cable was not responding,” said Duffy. This was not known until Bauer arrived on campus to check the wireless connection in McClellan. What exactly caused this problem “is still not known. Time Warner’s DNS services were experiencing a problem but we are unlikely to find out exactly what that problem was,” said Duffy.
Around 11:40pm on Tuesday night, students were sent a second email with directions on how to temporarily fix the problem. Dereke Halden (’16) had discovered a temporary solution to the problem. When asked how he came across this solution he said, “it happened to be the first thing I tried. I had seen someone try and fix my Wi-Fi connection that way before, and figured it was worth trying something as long as the Internet wasn't up.”
By Wednesday at 4pm, Time Warner reported that the problem had been resolved, and an email was sent to students letting them know. This was the first major issue of its kind at Skidmore. “In the 11 years we have had Time Warner providing Internet access to the Res Halls, we have never experienced a DNS failure,” remarked Duffy.