WiFi connection issues affect students

Recommendations to improve your internet experience

By Deana Johnson

“Every school year provides its own set of challenges with WiFi and with technology in general. The random disconnections that have been reported this year is something we have not typically seen before,” said Tara LaChapelle, the executive director of Ripon College’s IT department.

Students have been experiencing issues when trying to get connected or with staying connected to Ripon’s WiFi.

“A number of users have contacted us this semester with reports of sporadically getting disconnected from WiFi and then subsequent difficulties with reconnecting, “LaChapelle said.

Besides this recurring issue for users, other users have experienced, “difficulties completing the on-boarding process to the secured WiFi. According to our records, any students that have come to use directly with issues like this have has those problems resolved however,” she stated.

When asked why students and users in general are having these issues with the WiFi, LaChapelle said, “at this point we are still actively troubleshooting the issue, any ideas would be pure speculation at this point.”

“This is a complex process that may take some time. College WiFi is not home WiFi. We have over 420 wireless access points (APs) across campus with thousands of devices that connect to them daily. A solution may end up being as simple as a software fix or it may be something much more complicated and time consuming,” LaChapelle said.

LaChapelle explains that part of users’ problems are because the wireless networks the college uses are a “shared” medium which means that only one device can be in communication with an AP at a certain time. This is why even one device that is misconfiguring has such an impact on the rest of the devices that are also connected to that same AP.

She offered some tips for students to follow to help make everyone’s WiFi experience better.

“If you have connectivity or poor performance issues, turn off the WiFi on your device and turn it back on. This is especially important if you are or have been moving around. Wireless devices (especially Apple) are notorious for “sticking” to the first AP they find when entering a building and may not be providing you with the best experience, and it may be draining your battery more quickly,” LaChapelle said.

Furthermore, students should “use the secured WiFi (RallyNet Secured). Many students choose to use RallyNet Guest exculsivley. The guest WiFi is limited to much lower speeds than RallyNet Secured and is blocked from accessing some campus resources like printing,” LaChapelle said.

Beyond this, “if you are having trouble with the on-boarding process, or any other technology issue, please come see us. We have student assistants working during business hours Monday through Friday that can resolve most of the common issues students face getting their devices connected to RallyNet Secured,” she said.

“Turn off the wireless radios on all printers and hotspot devices. Similar to a freeway during rush hour, the more WiFi devices you have advertising their services on the network the slower everyone has to go. Our AP’s work in conjunction to utilize different lanes of the freeway at different times to eliminate congestion; ‘Rogue’ AP’s do not,” she said.

Finally, LaChapelle would like students to remember to “keep your devices updated. Most wireless issues can be traced back to the wireless client itself. Staying current with the latest operating systems and driver updates go a long way to providing you with the best WiFi experience.”

Mohammad Nafisi Bahabadi, a sophomore, explained that he feels these WiFi issues are impacting students negatively.

“I understand that other places have higher speed internet, but we also don’t have access to the most equipped services out there. I think mediocre internet is not necessarily bad as it helps some work through social media obsession,” he said.

Freshman Emily Jacobchak said “Because society is evolving technologically, more homework and assignments are being asked to be completed online, and when experiencing issues with the WiFi it enables students to complete those assignments in a seamless manner, causing more stress and frustration. Besides just assignments, many students use online sites as study tools for learning and processing the information that they are learning about in class, such as sites like Quizlet, Memorize, GoConqr and many more, that all rely on good internet connections.”

As issues with the WiFi continue to emerge and be dealt with, Tara and her fellow staff members would like to say, “we appreciate the patience of the students and the campus community as we work to find solutions to the reported issues.”

With that being said if students are experiencing problems with the campus’s WiFi, LaChapelle requests that they report their issues to IT so that the department can help make the internet better for the whole campus.