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After nearly 27 weeks of poor internet connection, the residents of City Block have finally received an upgraded internet service.
Since the beginning of the tenancy, students from both Lancaster University and the University of Cumbria living in City Block Two have been experiencing slow internet service which has made research, assignments and exam revision difficult. In some cases, it would take 15-20 minutes to download files off LUVLE.
This has forced people to travel to campus to use the internet, something students feel is unacceptable in accommodation which claims to be ‘luxury’.
Emma Lovatt, a History student, has struggled to complete assigned readings and online seminar tasks due to the slow internet connection. “As far as I’m concerned, accommodation for students should have access to the internet. It’s just so important for gaining a degree now,” she said.
In response to student complaints, City Block management said: “We recognised that there was a heavier demand for bandwidth than usual due to high volumes of data being downloaded including music files, films and gaming. A decision was taken to bring forward the planned date for upgrading the internet service in readiness for the main exam period.”
Rebecca Devey, a resident of the affected flat, said: “I shouldn’t have to worry about other people downloading and limiting my own internet speed. After all, the University manages to cope with people downloading and gaming.”
Despite an internet upgrade, students are unhappy with the way the situation was dealt with. In a letter of complaint to City Block, resident Liz Foster wrote: “As luxury student accommodation, City Block should provide sufficient internet. This has not been provided over the last seven months.”
The broadband supplied to City Block is shared broadband internet access, making available bandwidth dependent on usage by other residents. All students are asked to sign a fair usage policy as part of an agreement with City Block. This policy was completed by students in February 2009.
An attempt to fix the problem involved a student walking around the flat with a laptop to detect a wireless router which may have been in use, something which has been criticised as being unprofessional.
Students are now campaigning for compensation for the unsatisfactory internet connection over the last seven months. However, City Block is refusing to consider a refund because there was no actual downtime with the internet.
“They seem to think it’s acceptable for them to upgrade the internet after 26 weeks and expect us to be happy from now on,” said Devey. “However, we have had 26 weeks without internet, enough time for this to affect our work.”
“We pay enough for the accommodation which is stated as ‘luxury’, therefore we should have at least received a decent internet service, [which is] essential to any student,” said Foster.
In addition to poor internet, students have experienced maintenance problems, including sporadic hot water issues. Last week also saw City Block test the intercom system in the morning with no prior warning. “It was disruptive, rude and disrespectful to us,” said Devey. “I think calling this accommodation is luxury is deceitful.”