Upgrades to internet speed and connections are coming in January

Come January, wired and WiFi internet speeds in residence halls, Lancer Park and Longwood Landings will get a significant boost, thanks to the university’s investment in upgrading its network in those buildings.

Students will receive technical support for connectivity issues 24/7/365 directly from Shentel, the university’s internet provider.

Uploading and downloading will be faster

Starting in January, the new internet service will offer a faster speed of 100/100 Mbps through both wired and WiFi connections. This means is that students will be able to upload and download data at a faster rate of 100 Mbps (megabits per second).

Mark Kendrick, associate vice president for Information Technology Services (ITS), said Longwood understands that internet service and its performance are crucial for students in their academic and extracurricular activities. With the recent upgrade, he added, students will experience faster uploading and downloading. This will result in less buffering and more uninterrupted viewing, especially when streaming content on platforms like Netflix or Hulu.

Faster upload speeds will aid in transferring large files, such as high-resolution photographs used in art classes, as well as facilitating file sharing in group projects, Kendrick said.

More and better connections

Also part of this project is the upgrading and increase of WAPs (wireless access points), which connect computers and other devices to wireless Internet service.

Audrey Bright, Shentel’s director of enterprise sales who has been collaborating closely with Kendrick, said they will be upgrading 157 WAPs and installing 109 new ones to improve connectivity in the residence halls and apartment buildings, including in the rooms of students.

“Overall, coverage is very good in each of the covered buildings,” she said. “However, there are some weak spots, and Shentel will be adding WAPs to enhance coverage and capacity in areas with weak signal and/or high demand. Shentel is very excited to continue our partnership with Longwood in enhancing the student experience through technology that grows along with student needs.”

The upgrades won’t function optimally—meaning slower internet speeds—unless students help with one critical part of the process, Kendrick said. If your student is using their own WAP or mobile hotspot, please encourage them to disable it when the new system becomes operational.

“We know that some students have purchased their own WAPs and turn on their mobile hotspot in an attempt to improve their internet performance,” Kendrick said. “While they may improve coverage in a specific area or for a specific student or group of students, they interfere with the performance of the network, and can negatively impact the experience of other students nearby. The effectiveness of the upgrades will be compromised by the interference that these unmanaged devices create.

“Please allow the new system to function at its highest and most effective level by removing these boosters in January.”

Technical support 24/7/365 from Shentel

If your student is experiencing connectivity issues and is unable to access the internet, Shentel is available to provide technical support 24/7/365. Simply have your student call 855-267-7289 for assistance. For other technical issues, please have your student contact Longwood’s Help Desk at 434-395-4357.

Funding for the project

A portion of the funding for this upgrade is coming from the reallocation of funds that were previously used for cable TV service, Kendrick said, adding that this decision was made after observing and receiving feedback from students living in Longwood-managed housing, where less than 1 percent of residents are currently utilizing cable TV.

“Given the substantial decline in cable TV use, we wanted to put those resources toward the network upgrade,” said Kendrick. “Longwood is committed to providing students with the tools they need to be successful academically, and technology is high on that list.”

—Sabrina Brown