This is a very long post about a serious problem but which will only be of interest to about thirty students in one student house. If that’s not you, please look further down the blog for fun with Jaffa cakes.
The University owns Hillside/Woodside, a student house with about thirty residents. It’s in Leigh Woods on the far side of the suspension bridge – a beautiful but out of the way location.
Once upon a time we provided a dialup service for the students living there (and in a few other small University-owned student houses). As nobody wants dialup any more we got rid of the dialup service a year ago, and put a dedicated link in to just about all the small student houses so we could provide the normal ResNet service.
Hillside/Woodside was always going to be tricky due to its location and distance from everywhere else. We looked at all sorts of possibilities, such as wireless, but they didn’t work out. We put in a phone line and ADSL link to replace the dialup. This worked, but not very well – 30 students on one ADSL line wasn’t great, although we tried all sorts of ideas to improve the connection it ultimately wasn’t fast or reliable enough.
This year we decided the only solution was to put in a dedicated 10Mbit leased line to link Hillside/Woodside back to the main site. That way we could provide ResNet as available everywhere ele. A leased line is much faster and more reliable than an ADSL connection. It is also hugely more expensive 🙁
The University starts a new financial year in August and in August we had found the money to do it. We then realised that it can take months to get this sort of leased line installed, and it wouldn’t be quite ready for the start of term, but we hoped it would be soon afterwards.
Just recently the final survey was carried out by our supplier before the work could take place. This uncovered a few problems – the leased line can’t be routed to the exchange in Clifton as had been thought. Instead we need an even more expensive leased line across two phone exchanges 🙁
We’ve now ordered the leased line we really need. Unfortunately this has delayed us further. Given the first delay we’re trying to get it pushed through by our supplier faster than normal, but there are no guarantees. When it is in place we should be fine, but we have a problem until then.
We are now looking at interim solutions – resurrecting the ADSL connection from last year, which wasn’t great but is better than nothing. We won’t charge residents at Hillside/Woodside anything for using the ADSL line, and start collecting ResNet subscriptions only when we have the proper service in place. We’ll keep everyone in the house informed as to what’s going on, and hope to have the ADSL service up real soon now.
We’d like to say that we’re really sorry to the students at Hillside/Woodside. We’re really sorry. When you are away from home at uni an Internet connection is pretty important for keeping in touch. There are other facilities available – the nearest is probably the computer room and cybercafe in the students union, and you can use the wireless hotspots with your own laptop on campus – but obviously it’s not the same as a connection in your own room.
About the best we can say is we’re working on it and doing what we can.
UPDATE 05/10/06: We have now ordered the ADSL service for Hillside/Woodside. Will keep this updated with news as to when it will be available.
UPDATE 10/10/06: Looks as if it should be in by about 19th/20th October.