Marist College Wi-Fi drowned out by Xbox 360s

Marist’s Wi-Fi network is being drowned out in some chokepoints around the campus while continuing to work perfectly in other spots, and the culprit seems to be Microsoft’s Xbox 360.

The campus-wide Wi-Fi connection at Marist College, known as AirFox, has had a history of being complicated for students to get online on and, at times, buggy. The latest issue with AirFox comes in the form of weak signal caused by too many Xbox 360s. The popular console can utilize wireless controllers that run in the 2.4GHz band, the same wave frequency in which Wi-Fi signals and cordless phones function.

In some dormitories such as Champagnat, which is for freshmen only, the amount of Xbox 360s seems to be so large that the wireless signal given out by the controllers is starting to block the incoming signal from AirFox and students are beginning to notice. “When I bring my laptop to class, or if I’m in the library, I never get kicked off; here it’s like an hourly thing,” said Laura Kaplan, a student and Resident Assistant at Champagnat.

Champagnat Hall
Champagnat Hall during Golden Hour. Taken with a Canon 550D by Luis Alicea.

The information technology department, networking department and residential networking (ResNet) department are all aware of the issue and have begun to work on it. “Removing devices that use the 2.4GHz frequency or avoiding it are best. People can use the Ethernet ports in their rooms with their computers when they are staying in their rooms; that way they will avoid the issue altogether,” said Ryan Flaherty, a graduate student and staff member at ResNet, “The Ethernet ports are faster anyway.”

The issue is not something unique to the Marist College campus. Online technology magazine PCWorld reported in 2007 that the same issue had occurred at Morrisville State College in Morrisville, New York. The college did not seem to have any immediate fix for the problem, especially with the Xbox 360 having had a large increase of sales in 2007.

Flaherty assured that the issue wasn’t specific to Marist College in any way. “There isn’t anything wrong with AirFox,” said Flaherty, who has been working at ResNet since 2008, “the dorms are kind of like that Apple conference when so many people are using wireless that Steve Jobs couldn’t connect with his demo iPad.”

None of the Marist College support departments have made any official announcement regarding these Wi-Fi bottlenecks and it seemed that none of the employees had much that could be said in regard to what can be done about the issue on campus. When asked about any statements regarding an official announcement to the students at Champagnat, Kaplan stated she hadn’t heard anything, but had definitely felt the difference in Wi-Fi strength at Champagnat.

Champagnat Hall is the tallest building on the Marist College campus, with nine floors, and houses over 400 students. The issue may be happening as well in other parts of the campus, but there is no way to know if it it’s the Xbox 360s issue until we have official word from Marist College.

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