Troubleshooting Campus Wi-Fi Issues

Audience: Faculty, Staff and Students

This KB Article References: WolfieNet
This Information is Intended for: Faculty, Staff, Students
Last Updated: March 22, 2017

There are a variety of reasons why students, faculty, or staff may experience wireless connection issues on campus. Issues such as not being able to connect to WolfieNet-Secure, limited or no connectivity, intermittent connectivity, slow performance, or weak signals could be avoided by using a wired ethernet connection. Wired connections are faster, more secure and dependable. However, because most people today prefer the convenience of wireless, here are some explanations and suggestions from DoIT's Data Network Services team to help promote smooth everyday use of Stony Brook's wireless networks.

Keep Access Points (APs) Plugged In

During the installation of Wi-Fi in the residence halls during the summer of 2009, the decision was made to use the existing data jacks in living rooms to save on cost and to speed up installation. Most access points were thus installed near a data jack in the living room of a suite. This access point is not just for that suite. All access points work together, whereby removing an access point reduces the overall Wi-Fi effectiveness for the area. Solution: Do not move wireless access points installed on campus.

Refrain from Using Personal Wireless Routers

The issue with personal wireless routers (or rogue access points) is that the radio frequency range that computer Wi-Fi signals operate on is very small. Therefore, all access points need to cooperate with each other so that they do not occupy the same channel. When all the access points are part of a designed system and cooperate, there can be 40-50 APs in the same building. When someone introduces an outside (rogue) access point into this mix, there is no longer any channel cooperation and, depending on the number of rogue APs, much of the enterprise systems' access points' time and energy will be spent trying to find a free channel. This is known as RF noise. By refraining from using personal wireless routers, the University's enterprise Wi-Fi network will continue to service ALL community members rather than trying to find a clean channel. Unfortunately, RF noise can also come from cordless phones, baby monitors, and microwave ovens since they all operate on a 2.4 or 5 GHz frequency range.

Try WolfieNet-Get-Connected

Keep in mind that the WolfieNet-Secure network needs both authentication and encryption. Because of that, establishing a connection to this network is a bit tricky, especially using Windows XP. WolfieNet-Get-Connected can help you make your initial connection to WolfieNet-Secure. Using XpressConnect technology, WolfieNet-Get-Connected will configure your device's authentication and encryption settings.

Remember You're Using a Shared Medium

Wi-Fi connections by definition are slower than wired connections. Remember, wireless is a shared medium. Wi-Fi can lose 5-10 Mbs of speed due to such things as the position of the internal antenna on a laptop, the manufacturer of the device, and/or the drivers of the internal wireless card. Manufacturers are always submitting driver updates to improve hardware performance. Even though everything you read will tell you the 802.11n Wi-Fi protocol is the fastest connection, these reports omit the fact that Wi-Fi connection speeds are easily and often degraded by many factors.

The time of day could be a factor in slow or sluggish performance. Access to a website that works great at 8 a.m. but seems slow at 10 p.m. does not necessarily mean the campus network speed is slow. It has to do with the fact that students tend to use the network more at night compared to other times of the day. Stony Brook is aware that some residential halls reach maximum capacity between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. The University is aware of these issues and is continuously working to increase bandwidth.

Be Specific When Reporting Problems to Customer Engagement & Support

DoIT support staff needs as much information as possible to accurately diagnose wireless issues and offer solutions. When reporting network problems to Customer Engagement & Support (2-9800), please provide the following information:

  • The type of connection you are making to the network (wired ethernet? Wi-Fi via WolfieNet-Secure? WolfieNet-Open? WolfieNet-Guest?)
  • Time of day
  • Location of where you are trying to connect from (name of campus building or residence hall and room number)

 

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