An Open Letter to UIUC’s Wi-Fi

By Mea Donnelly




The excitement of becoming  a UIUC student grows tremendously the summer before arrival.  New stuff, new friends and new opportunities waiting on campus help to fuel this excitement.  Students plan to do so well in school that it is unreal- then they get here.  It’s much harder to carry out plans of success solely based on the fact that the Wi-Fi, everyone’s lifeline to society, is nearly nonexistent here.




One would think that with the tuition bills every student has to pay to be on this campus, the administrators would do everything in their power to give every student the opportunity to be their absolute best.  But unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

I like to tell my roommate that IllinoisNet is a lot like the worst kind of ex: unreliable and cruel- unreliable in the sense that it likes to randomly kick people off of the network and seems to stop working right around that online paper deadline, and cruel in the sense that it will randomly kick you off in the middle of an assignment (and of course it’s the one time you forget to save as you go).  IllinoisNet is hands down the worst part of being a UIUC student.




I urge all students to band together and do something about it.  Maybe we could form a club that carries around free Wi-Fi for people to use that will actually work.  Or maybe we could start a petition to get the administration to pay for Wi-Fi that will give us students a chance to really perform to our full capabilities.  On a campus where almost all homework is handled on online services such as Lon Capa or Compass, it is simply unacceptable that the Wi-Fi is this horrendous.
So please, I beg of you, administrators of UIUC, get this world-class campus a world-class level Wi-Fi.


*Image Sources:

Wifi. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2015.

“Goodbye Wi-Fi, Hello WiGig.” ComputerWeekly. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2015.

One thought on “An Open Letter to UIUC’s Wi-Fi

  1. Thanks for taking the time to write out this letter. We understand the frustration that many students are feeling about WiFi. Technology Services at Illinois wants to help you get connected for all of the reasons that you outlined in your letter. You plan to do well in school, we want you to do well in school, and we feel remiss when our technology keeps you from achieving your goals. So please accept our apologies for the problems that you have been having.

    This year, most student problems have been in the residence halls. The high concentration of devices connecting to WiFi make the halls particularly challenging. Think of all the laptops, phones, tablets, gaming consoles, streaming TVs, wearable tech, wireless printers, etc all trying to connect in a compact area. That environment is unlike any coffee shop or home WiFi network you will ever encounter.

    Over 85,000 different devices connect to our wifi network on an average day, and at peak times, 38,000 devices are connected simultaneously. These numbers grow every year, and that’s why we add more wireless access points every year. We even have a three-year Wireless Expansion and Upgrade project to upgrade academic spaces across campus and add roughly 6 million square feet of wireless coverage to campus. More info on that project is at

    But we know the number of devices connected to our network would be higher if everyone could connect when they want to. One of the major reasons that students have problems connecting or staying connected to IllinoisNet is how most devices are pre-configured when you buy them.

    Most phones and laptops are configured to find one WiFi signal and hold onto it as long as possible. What that means on campus is that when you move between access points, instead of passing to the stronger IllinoisNet signal, your phone tries to hold onto that weakening original signal. Also, some of the security settings we use here are different than what you would use at home.

    The bottom line is that if you are having problems with WiFi, we really want you to come to us for help. It may be as simple as bringing us your phone or your laptop, and letting us getting the settings properly configured. You can get that help by visiting our Help Desk or one of the six computer labs that we run (

    Or if it turns out the area you’re trying to connect to needs more access points, we need your help identifying those locations across campus. You can send an email to to let us know where the trouble spots are on campus, or hit us up on Twitter (@TechServicesIL) with more info.

    Again, we know you need WiFi for all aspects of your life. We’re working every single day to make your experience everything that you expect it to be. In the meantime, if you haven’t reached out to us yet for help, please let us see what we can do to help properly configure your device or get more coverage where you need it. Most students that we help once do not need our help again. We would love to provide that help to you.

    Thanks again for your letter,

    Brian from Technology Services

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