The Texas A&M Division of Information Technology is reviewing its procedures after an unannounced system update led to a campus-wide internet outage Wednesday night.
On Tuesday morning, the IT Help Desk started receiving reports that the internet was having slow connectivity speeds. The department began to work to resolve the slow speed issues and consulted their network hardware vendor, who recommended a code upgrade. Instead of the maintenance outage lasting the intended five to 10 minutes, the entire network failed. This extended outage caused both the wired and wireless networks at A&M to go down from 7 to 9:45 Wednesday night, and those with other forms of internet access could not access online resources like eCampus.
Lacy Blaze, associate director for Texas A&M IT, said the division is doing a root cause analysis to see what caused the initial slow internet connection that was being reported.
“We’re also going to re-evaluate our process about the timing for when we perform these emergency upgrades to ensure that it has the least impact on academic activities,” Blaze said.
Landry Stokes, telecommunication media studies freshman, said she was taking an exam with her classmates but was having difficulties finishing on campus. Stokes connected to her wireless hotspot and only had a 25-minute window left to finish her exam.
“It scared me because I only had a one hour time limit,” Stokes said. “Once you sit down, you have to complete it because it’s one attempt only. So I had to rush and find a different classroom to work there and try different networks, but they also weren’t working.”
Stokes said that many students in her other classes began to talk about the outage in GroupMe, and tried emailing their teaching assistants and professors about the issue.
“I think sending out an email saying ‘we’re expecting some technical difficulties with the internet,’ or especially any information with times or locations so that people with midterms and important assignments due, would help in these situations,” Stokes said. “At least we’d know maybe we need to go to Starbucks or turn them in at home or the library.”
Stokes said some of her instructors extended deadlines to the following day, but she plans to start doing her homework off campus whenever the internet is slow.
“I wouldn't expect it around midterms or this week, so it was kind of out of left field for me,” Stokes said. “Communication, I think, is key to avoid major mental breakdowns for students.”
“In an emergency situation we would just have to evaluate the circumstances of each situation,” Blaze said. “Going forward, we’re going to make sure that we’re much more sensitive to that and that we do that overnight instead of at 6:30.”