University delivers Wi-Fi in a crisis: A student's view

a man in a blue shirt
June 29, 2020

Students get a semblance of ‘normal’ as CSUSB expands Wi-Fi to student parking areas to help with on-line learning during the ongoing health crisis.

I’m a university student with three years into a Business Technology Management degree. Till now, my life has generally consisted of running between campus and work at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, with a bit of time on the sides for friends. This year though, things have been thrown for a bit of a loop. So much so that nearly everything in 2020 that used to reflect my normal life has disappeared.

Since the university precautions associated with the pandemic have been in place, all of my classes have moved online, as is the case for all of my fellow students across the country. With no end in sight I have realized that I’m more of an old fashioned classroom type of learner. I’m not much of a fan of a format where I can’t really talk to people and where getting to know new people in traditional ways is COMPLETELY out of the question. So it’s no surprise that I’m feeling a bit cheated on my ‘college experience’.

Sometimes things are done right

Many students, like me, have begun to feel that some colleges and universities are just trying to keep a steady flow of ’normal’ when nothing is normal right now. From our point of view, getting everyone to jump onto a conference call and try to carry on business as usual doesn’t really cut it. While it’s fair to say that schools can’t do much as they are constrained by the world’s circumstances just like we are; there are some institutions going the extra mile to make things work just a little better. California State University San Bernardino (CSUSB) is one example. ALE’s project with CSUSB to expand their Wi-Fi service into the student parking areas provides a connection both literally and figuratively that students need.

CSUSB, a long time customer of ALE, is part of the larger California State University system which is comprised of 23 campuses across the state.  With more than 20,000 students enrolled each year, CSUSB is a melting pot of cultures and ideals, a leading contributor to their cultural diversity.

In an effort to show students that they are paying attention to their needs, CSUSB embarked on a project to provide external wireless connectivity during the pandemic, and help close out the spring semester. CSUSB knew they  couldn’t invite students back indoors, so together ALE and CSUSB came up with a solution with a classic ‘bring the services to them’ move. ALE deployed Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitch® 6454 Compact Hardened Ethernet Switches to extend CSUSB’s wireless network to the outdoor parking areas so students could ‘come to campus’ and connect to the school Wi-Fi while staying out of the buildings.

View of parking lot through window for blog post

This creative solution to the social distancing learning problem shows students and myself that institutions, in this case CSUSB, care about their student’s needs. The external Wi-Fi gives students access to high-grade connectivity, for those who had no other access, while also providing a valid reason for us to leave the house. While CSUSB is not my school, I’m inspired by their initiative and hopeful that other colleges and universities across the country might take notice and action for their students. Personally, at this point I would give way too much to have a valid reason to pick up some boba tea and do my schoolwork outside of the house and enjoy some semblance of what my college life used to be!

a man in a blue shirt

Jonathan Kafieh

ALE Marketing Intern

Jonathan Kafieh is a 3rd year university student studying Business Technology Management at Concordia University. While working as a marketing intern at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, Jonathan has helped generate leads, create webpages, and manage several different platforms. With 2020’s extraordinary circumstances, his non-working days largely consist of working on and worrying about online classes.

About the author

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