Tips For Using The Campus Wireless Network
Whether taking online classes, researching information, communicating with friends, or just relaxing by streaming a movie or tv show, or playing a video game, fast and reliable Internet service is a modern necessity. Wireless networking (WiFi), once considered a nice-to-have convenience, has become critical to using the Internet from our laptops, phones, tablets, and other mobile devices, but it is not without its technical limitations. When problems occur in a wireless network it can be difficult to troubleshoot connection and performance issues because so many external factors can alter the wireless signal. Building architecture, the number of other networked devices in the immediate area, “rogue” wireless signals in the air, and even the physical presence of other people nearby can affect the stability and performance of your WiFi connection.
When you use a wireless network, you’re sharing the air with all of your devices, as well as with your neighbors and all of their devices. Apple TVs, Firesticks, Chromecasts, Roku, Echos, smart TVs, watches, and almost every new video game console all use WiFi and Bluetooth. Generally speaking, these devices (and their remotes and controllers) all operate on the same 2.4Ghz radio frequency. (Fun Fact: Microwave ovens also operate in the 2.4Ghz spectrum, and can cause interference when running!) With all of these various devices “talking” in the same radio spectrum in the same physical area, there are sometimes too many conversations going on for anyone to hear anything.
Newer generations of WiFi technology (802.11N, AC, & AX) introduced an additional 5Ghz frequency which allows for more devices to talk at the same time without “hearing” all of those older devices using the 2.4Ghz frequency. The 5Ghz frequency provides much more bandwidth, but is more susceptible to interference from obstructions and distance (you can talk faster, but have to be closer). Additionally, the same concept of too many conversations in the same room at once still applies; it’s just a bigger room. Below, we will discuss some of the things you can do to help keep the shared WiFi network working for everyone!
- “Have you tried turning it off and back on again?” Seriously, we know it is a cliche, but this fixes the majority of problems your devices may have; internet or otherwise. (Make sure you shutdown and don’t just sleep. Sleep keeps your open applications and system status, and any active bugs too.)
- When possible, use a hard-wired Internet connection instead of a wireless connection. A hard wired connection will be more reliable than wireless, especially if there are many users online at the same time in a closed area such as a dorm room.
- Stationary devices such as desktops, gaming consoles, and smart TVs are recommended to be connected to the wired network.
- The use of WiFi routers or WiFi extenders is prohibited; they will conflict with the university’s wireless infrastructure, and will further reduce performance for all users.
- Turn off WiFi and Bluetooth on devices you are not actively using.
- Have a printer in your room? Be sure that it is not broadcasting a WiFi network; many do so by default. You should be able to disable this in the printer’s settings. If you can’t disable your printer’s wifi signal, just leave your printer turned off when not in use.
- If you are a student, faculty, or staff on campus, make sure you are connecting to the “FalconNet” wireless network whenever possible. If your device is unable to connect to FalconNet, then you should connect to “UMGaming”.
- Ensure your device drivers and software are up to date; this can resolve some issues and is great for keeping devices more secure too.
- Clear cookies in your web browser, delete temporary files, and empty the recycle bin frequently to help keep your laptop or desktop running smoothly.
If you are experiencing any issue(s) with latency, frozen screen, poor quality audio, or a meeting getting disconnected while using Zoom on a WiFi connection, try the following:
- Before a Zoom meeting, test your audio or video connection on the Zoom test site at: zoom.us/test
- Check your bandwidth using an online speed test like speedtest.net. In general, you will need a “ping” time of less than 25ms and at least 1.5Mbps of upload and download speed for a good Zoom experience. Note that the Zoom application will automatically lower the quality of your video stream if your bandwidth drops below 1.5Mbps.
- If you find your connection is still not good, consider turning off your Zoom video by clicking the “Stop Video” button on the bottom left of the Zoom window. Turning off the video and sending only audio to meeting participants uses less bandwidth and can improve your audio quality.
- If you’re in a large Zoom call, keep yourself muted until you need to speak. This uses less bandwidth and will prevent excess noise on the call.
- If issues continue, turn off your audio and connect to Zoom audio using your cell phone or landline rather than over the Internet.
- Avoid using a VPN connection while on Zoom. VPNs are known to cause performance issues with Zoom.
- Avoid having multiple data streams going on at once. ie: streaming Netflix or YouTube while in a Zoom class session.