Internet Issues Continue at Orono

Many students and staff have been complaining about the extremely common internet connectivity issues. By the end of this coming summer, Orono High School will see dramatically increased internet quality which will provide a much-welcome improvement.

Several students have complained about the common internet struggle seen throughout the school. “When the teacher is explaining the directions at the beginning of class, I cannot pay attention because I am waiting for my computer to get connected and catch up,” Senior Josh Keilen said.

Similar complaints were heard from senior Logan Hemenway, who describes the internet connectivity issues as detrimental to his learning.

“The building was designed long before internet was a consideration, so you get radio shadows. This means that radio signals can only go through certain materials, so they will stop at metal,” OHS Director of Technology Sean Beaverson said.

This explains why the basement has a weaker connection.

“When wireless was planned for the high school, it was years before there was a BYOD (Bring your own device) program, so there wasn’t the same need or traffic on the network,” Beaverson said.

“I hear from students daily about their internet issues, but they are always surprised when they get to the library and it is working again,” Media Specialist Adrian Wikman said.

The location of the person trying to connect seems to play a role in the quality of the connection. The media center is prioritized over anywhere else in the school due to it being newly renovated.

Today, an internet connection for a student is an integral part of their education. Coordinator of technology policy for the New York State Education Department Lawrence Paska describes that the internet can be used as a cost-effective and faster solution for creating new courses, and it reduces the number of resources needed for courses in general.

“They added more access points around the school to make the coverage better recently. This helped a bit, but it is still shaky at times,” Orono High School Technology Expert Rob Kovach said.

Joshua Bleiberg from the Institution of Brookings found that school internet speed is typically measured in bandwidth per student. This is used to measure the possible speed of the internet with the assumption that every student would be using it at once. This is used to calculate how much internet a school would need through simple calculations.

“There is an upgrade that we are working on planned to upgrade all of the hardware and controllers that are involved in the process. Without the pandemic, we would have started the upgrade earlier than we would have. We have the budget for one major upgrade per year,” Beaverson said.

The internet issues were not the main focus last year, but they are now.

“We have great throughput with our provider, Arvig…we doubled our bandwidth last summer as well, so we have a lot of room coming from outside into our district,” Beaverson said.

Kovach and Beaverson indicated that overall updating all of the connected devices in the school would provide the likely solution to the problem. Additionally, a potential solution would be to limit the number of devices per person on the network.