Promises Ignored, Access Denied : Follow Up on Internet Connectivity

Promises Ignored, Access Denied : Follow Up on Internet Connectivity

Raksha Karkera Umme Salma | Feb 11, 2019

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Internet connectivity on campus has been a constant toothache for the students as well as the faculty of NITR. It is ironic that one of the best technical institutes of the nation lags behind in internet technology by a decade. Although wired connections are faster, the limitations that accompany it are vexing enough.

(This is a follow-up on the already published article on internet connectivity in the campus a few months back: )

Unfortunately, the situation has not changed much.

The current internet service providers are BSNL and Ortel each which gives 1 GBPS and 200 MBPS respectively. BSNL is funded through MHRD whereas Ortel is paid by NITR. There are plans of getting a new 1 GBPS line which will be provided by Power Grid Corporation of India which will be paid by NITR. In total, we will be having 2.2 GBPS which is expected to improve our current internet speeds.

Here is a brief account of the tete-a-tete between C K Biswas and Team MM.

MM: Some students complained about different speeds in different hostels. Why is this the case?
CKB: Speeds should be the same throughout all the hostels and we have tested all of our connections as well. But if this is the case then there must be some technical issue which will be looked into.

MM: Is internet connectivity supposed to be given during the holidays?
CKB: Yes, the internet is supposed to be given during government holidays which fall during the weekdays. However, it's not provided on the holidays which are not mentioned in the NITR Calendar.

MM: Why isn’t internet connectivity provided 24*7?
CKB: It is against the policy, this has been decided by the deans and HODs of the institute.

MM: Students have complained that if their rooms have a non-functioning LAN port, they have to go through a long procedure of getting it fixed. Why couldn’t there be a hotline for related complaints?
CKB: Such situations happen because students break the LAN port while leaving the room, we can’t do anything about it. However, if there is a non-functioning LAN port, the students are supposed to register a complaint with their warden. Then a formal procedure goes on. The cost of fixing the LAN port has to be borne by the warden of the respective hostel. Since every complaint has to go through the warden, a hotline wouldn’t be possible. 

MM: Whenever there is a power cut, the LAN connection is interrupted, could it be possible to avoid it somehow?
CKB: In our institute, we have a hotline for power supply i.e. we don’t have load shedding. So eventually, there is a power cut from the provider. In important buildings, we have UPS as a substitute for power for the switch boxes. However, we cannot afford to have UPS for switch boxes in the hostel buildings. That’s why whenever there is a power cut, LAN is interrupted and when the power comes it takes 3-4 minutes as the booting time.

MM: Switch boxes were to be installed across all hostels during last semester has this been completed as of yet?
CKB: Yes, there was a plan to put up more switch boxes. If we need to provide two LAN ports in a room, we have to put additional switch boxes. But all this takes time, it cannot be done overnight. It depends upon the contractor, the availability of the room and the urgency of the situation.

MM: Video conferencing units were to be set up in BBA, Senate room and director’s office, How far has this come? Moreover, has TIIR become fully WiFi enabled?
CKB: Yes, video conferencing units are set up in the director’s office but not in other buildings because of the budget constraints.
We are planning to have Wi-fi connectivity in the buildings like TIIR and new buildings like Golden Jubilee by the start of the next financial year i.e. April. Also, there is a proposed plan to install Wi-fi connectivity in the common rooms of all the hostels but this plan has been given less priority as of now.

MM: Why can’t our campus be fully WiFi enabled?
CKB: When we planned to get internet connectivity in 2002, Wi-Fi networks weren’t there, so we went ahead with the idea of a wired network. Now installing wifi in place of the wired networks would be spending the same amount of money again. I agree that Wifi is a secure, efficient network but right now we cannot bear the cost of installing Wifi in all the buildings. However, we are trying to have a wireless network in all the newly constructed buildings.

MM: If given a hypothetical situation that the institute goes ahead with the proposal of making the whole campus Wi-fi enabled. What according to you will be the cost?
CKB: Right now, we have installed one switch box for one of one block of a hostel. In simple words, one switch box serves around 50 users. The cost of one switch box is around 75,000 rupees. Now you can estimate the cost of making the whole campus Wi-fi enabled.

The Analysis:

The previous semester brought a number of sugar-coated promises from the authorities to improve the internet facilities. The current internet speed is around 0.164 MBPS per user whereas the other institutes like the IITs get a far better speed. NIT Mizoram competes with the IITs when it comes to internet speed, enjoying 10 GBPS.
It is a shame that most of the users on the campus depend on their personal internet connection for better speed.

According to the authorities, the major hurdle in bringing up the internet speed is the budget constraints. However, it is not about the budget limit but the priority that internet connectivity gets in the budget. 

Internet is just a very small problem, most of our funds are getting used to utilize funds for improvement of our infrastructure. 

as stated by CK Biswas.

A plan of installing Wifi connections in the common rooms of all hostels is in its nascent stage, hence one can say that a fully Wifi enabled campus is a far fetched dream.

It is exasperating that in spite of having an FTE (Full Time Employee) test by a tech giant getting cancelled due to lack of LAN connection, TIIR still hasn’t been Wifi enabled. Connectivity of the city is in itself a problem for tech giant companies to visit the campus for recruitments, lack of LAN connectivity acts as fuel to the fire.

Many of the students question the relevance of the “LAN access after 5.15 PM” policy of NITR as decided by the authorities of the institute. Given the fact that most of the students have at least two halves off in a week, the strict policy obstructs access to the internet even in one’s free time. Is this a necessity or another redundant policy that NITR doesn’t need anymore?

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