Poor range for WiMAX

Shaina James

As NMU students, we are lucky enough to have computers and Internet provided for us. On-campus students have free wireless, and off-campus students and faculty are provided with WiMAX.

Most students living off-campus have a great connection to WiMAX; however, many people either have no connection to WiMAX or the connection is very weak.

On the NMU website it says “As with any wireless system, building construction, trees and other natural terrain can severely affect signal strength.” Still, many people living within a one mile radius of campus have a horrible connection.

The worst part about WiMAX is that many times I will be connected to the Internet and doing something (once this even happened during a test) and the connection will all of the sudden be lost. I then have to manually connect to the Internet. I was lucky that I have two tries and was able to retake my test.

Another issue I have with WiMAX is connecting. I know some people have their computers set up to automatically connect to WiMAX, but no matter what I do, my computer will not connect to WiMAX.

I have to manually connect to WiMAX every time I open my computer and want to go on the Internet. After a few, tries it may connect. This is a very annoying and time-consuming downfall to WiMAX.

In the summer, when less students were using WiMAX, the connection was great. I had no problems connecting and it never tried kicking me off the Internet.

Now that school is back in session and so many people are trying to connect to WiMAX at the same time, I have trouble getting a good connection, or connecting at all.

Many college students do not have cable TV and use an alternate source to get online. Netflix is one website that allows people to rewatch their favorite series or a recently released movie. These online sites are a much cheaper alternative to cable. However, trying to use sites like Netflix while connected to WiMAX often times is a failure.

It will most likely either take at least ten minutes for the video to load or if it has loaded in a short period of time the video will stop just as you are getting to the good part, try to load and will fail to do so because the connection to the Internet is not strong enough.

Some students who commute from surrounding areas have small coverage areas and weak signal strengths.

Negaunee, Ishpeming, Gwinn, KI Sawyer, Harvey and Big Bay each have one WiMAX tower. Marquette has a total of nine towers. Each WiMAX tower has a range of 2.5 miles. So if you are in a town like Ishpeming the chance of you getting a decent WiMAX connection is unlikely.

Roughly 6,300 NMU students who are classified as commuter students have to worry about connecting to WiMAX.

According to current enrollment rates listed on NMU’s 2011-12 profile, almost 70 percent of the NMU population is considered commuter students. It is important for WiMAX to be concentrated on the areas where most of these students live.

There are two WiMAX towers in Houghton and Hancock, though I am sure there are only a very few whom commute from there.

I think that NMU should concentrate on Marquette and the more local towns.

I think WiMAX is a great resource for students, but the infrastructure required for such an extensive service is not in place and the speeds at which WiMAX operates do not offer students a secure enough connection.

WiMAX has been recognized by President Obama, and the eyes of the nation are on us to keep developing our renowned service. The coverage needs to be expanded and improved so that NMU can actually reach rural areas such as outlying commuter towns.