A broken network circuit caused sluggish, sporadic Internet connections and Google Apps outages on campus accounts Wednesday through Friday.

University Information Services is still investigating the cause of the network circuit malfunction, but reportedly fixed the problem by switching to another circuit.

“A circuit is the network path that your data takes when it leaves the Hilltop,” Chief Information Officer Lisa Davis said. “And the really good news is that we have multiple paths. So once we isolated the incident and started testing our network, we had the ability to switch over to a different path. Once we did that, we noticed that our packets and our data flow started picking up to normal speed.”

Although the university has had occasional Google outages in the past, most issues have been resolved within an hour at the most, according to Davis.

Davis said that a handful of student calls to the UIS Help Desk on Wednesday prompted an investigation of the claims. Davis contacted Google staff, who helped her troubleshoot the problem.

“One of the things that we also noticed was from a network perspective, the only app that seemed to be having problems was Google Apps,” Davis said. “If that was the case, you would eliminate it being a network issue because if it was a network issue, there would have been multiple apps … would experience a latency as well”

Once the university concluded it was not a router or a software issue at Google, it began testing possible complications in Georgetown’s network. After attention was turned to the network, UIS quickly found the circuit problem.

Davis said that the UIS team is still investigating why the malfunction occurred, and that they expect to have answers before offices close on Wednesday.

“What’s really interesting about that — and this is the analysis that’s still going on — we still don’t understand the root cause of why that particular circuit was having problems connecting with the Google servers,” Davis said.

Davis acknowledged that many students and faculty members were inconvenienced by the sluggish Internet, but said that no significant problems arose from the incident.

“It’s unfortunate,” Davis said. “We want to provide the best service possible. And we don’t like it when there’s a slowness in our network. We want to make sure everybody’s able to access their systems and their data and do what they need to do.”

Ryan Wolfe (COL ’18) said that the Google outage came during a deadline for a paper he had saved to Google Docs, nearly causing him to miss his deadline.

“The day I needed to print [my assignment], it was downloading at a quarter of the speed of dial-up. It caused me a lot of undue stress,” Wolfe said.

Connor O’Dwyer (COL ’16) said that he experienced trouble last week while trying to conduct research for a paper.

“I had to do research online through the library’s website,” O’Dwyer said. “But it took me over half an hour to figure out the Internet connection. It was so slow, the library’s website wouldn’t even load. … I think the university could be doing better work to secure better wi-fi for the whole campus.”

 

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