The truth about Simpson’s cable, Wi-Fi changes

by Laura Wiersema, News Editor

Rumors of upcoming changes are swarming Simpson College’s campus as students return for the fall 2015 semester.

“We’re not going to get cable second semester, which I think is stupid. We’re paying $42,000 a year and we don’t get free cable,” sophomore Grant Waller said.

“I’ve heard that we’re getting rid of cable, and we’re quadrupling our bandwidth,” freshman Clark Bogner said.

While neither response is entirely correct, neither is entirely incorrect.

According to Kelley Bradder, vice president of Information Technology Services, Simpson will no longer provide cable to residents’ rooms starting in January 2016, when the college’s three-year contract with Mediacom expires.

This decision, made late in May 2015, resulted from a reduced budget due to declining student enrollment, among other factors.

“In a perfect world, would we be taking that service away from students? No. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We have to balance the budget,” Bradder said.

It was a tough decision to make, and one that wasn’t made on a whim.

By monitoring student use of the Internet, ITS found 68 to 72 percent of all Internet usage at Simpson is for streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.

When students are watching a majority of their programming online, it becomes hard to justify spending $52,000 per year on cable, according to Bradder.

“The value that we were getting wasn’t worth the cost,” she said.

Cable won’t be completely eradicated from campus, however.

For example, cable may be kept in the lounges so residents can continue to watch sporting events, like the Super Bowl and March Madness. This would make it more of a social opportunity as well.

Bradder said ITS takes into consideration events sponsored by Student Government Association, Campus Activities Board and Residence Life.

Cable will remain in Tyler’s Grille and Principal Black Box at Kent Campus Center.

The idea to eliminate cable to cut costs was recommended to the President’s Cabinet by the technology committee of SGA.

Alternate options were considered but it was decided that removing cable made the most sense.

“Our mission is to provide students with the best education experience we can, and that’s where our priorities need to lay,” Bradder said. “So serving that and preserving our mission was the most important thing to the committee and cable doesn’t support it as much.”

If cable doesn’t get cut, it could’ve been another faculty or staff member. That means one less professor or one less coach — potentially both.

“$52,000 is more than one person’s salary,” Bradder said. “Would you rather have a faculty person in the classroom teaching or cable?”

Students will have the option to pay for cable through Mediacom for less than $30 per month per room. ITS and SGA are working with Mediacom to make student discounts available.

In an attempt to offset the loss of cable, ITS has invested in increasing the Internet bandwidth from 300 megabytes per second to 500 megabytes per second, making streaming videos easier and faster. In Buxton Hall alone, ITS spent $40,000 on new wireless access points.

Though this change has already occurred, students have still complained about network outages during the past couple weeks. According to Bradder, these outages came from the network provider and not from Simpson.

For those living in apartments, the wireless access has to compete with other interference around the outskirts of campus. Additionally, each device has a different kind of antenna with varying strengths for receiving signals.

ITS wants to encourage students to contact them when having issues with their Internet.

“Our biggest want and wish is for students to call us when they have a problem. We can’t fix it if we don’t know about it. We want to fix it,” Bradder said. “We want the students to be happy with it.”

Anyone with questions is asked to call the help desk at 515-961-1411.