Sheridan to unplug wired ports and upgrade wireless network


A tale of two plugs: Sheridan is cutting the number of wired network ports by half at Davis and HMC.

A tale of two plugs: Sheridan is cutting the number of wired network ports by half at Davis and HMC.

Sheridan is pulling the plug on network ports this year at Hazel McCallion and Davis campuses.

IT kicked off the project two weeks ago that will see 1,086 ports at the Davis J, H and M wings and 808 ports at HMC removed.

“Sheridan has in excess of 35,000 wired network ports across its four campuses,” writes John McCormick, Sheridan’s director of information and communications technology, in an email.

He says more people are using the wireless network to get connected and fewer are relying on the ports. The college pays for each port connection through operational leases, which are expiring. Already many of the jacks are going unused, so the department has an opportunity to make the change.

McCormick says the money saved through letting the leases expire will be used to improve the wireless infrastructure.

“We are not removing any existing wiring or network jacks,” he said.  “At this time, we are simply installing a plastic cap into the jacks so that students know that that particular port is unavailable.”

Replacing the connection is relatively simple: remove the cap and patch the port back into the network.

Not everyone is pleased with the scheme.

Peter Devita, a faculty member at Sheridan and former chair for Centennial College network communications, voiced concern about the change.

“The biggest issue I’ve found is that the wireless network isn’t very reliable,” he said.

He recounts a story about students in his class taking a test on the SLATE system and couldn’t get connected.

“One poor girl lost almost 10 minutes, I had to give her a manual extension of time,” he said. “She was in tears, because she couldn’t get online.”

Devita says almost anything can disrupt a wireless connection, even unexpected solar flares putting radiation into the Earth’s atmosphere.

“I don’t think you can beat a hard-wired connection,” he said.

McCormick writes that some of the ports will still be available in every classroom and IT can reactivate disabled ports within 24 hours if needed.

He encourages staff to contact the IT Help Desk if they need ports turned back on if they’re needed for their course or program.