Campus Wi-Fi

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Students struggle finding areas with the best available wifi. As soon as they find one, however, they post up, ready to get work done. (Filip Pejcinovic)

Students only have to look at a map to find their nearest class, but have to go by word of mouth to find the best Wi-Fi signal.One of the best ways to utilize student Wi-Fi connection is by knowing where the fastest and strongest signal resides.

Where is the best connection on campus? The Learning Resource Center, Business, General Studies and Science and Mathematics buildings are commonly populated with large groups of students.

In an experiment, I and other Lariat staffers visited each location with a smartphone, and ranked them from one to three Wi-Fi connection bars, one being the worst and three being the best. Then I proceeded to measure the speed at which you could pull up YouTube using Saddleback’s student Wi-Fi.

Let’s start with the Learning Resource Center. When inside the building the connection fluctuates from two to three bars, and YouTube loads in 2.10 seconds.

Next we move onto the Quad. It’s filled with students waiting outside before class, passing through and trying to get some work done. The center of the Quad holds a Wi-Fi ranking of two bars, and a YouTube load time of 2.80 second, slightly slower than the LRC.

Inside the Business/General Studies building on the first floor you can get a Wi-Fi rating of full bars, and website load time of 2.29 seconds.

Across from the Business/General Studies building, the Sciences Building has the fastest loading time at 2.02 seconds, and provides a consistent three bar Wi-Fi signal.

The Science and Mathematics building has a ranking of three bars, and load time of 2.30 seconds.

Down in the village we have a website load time of 3.47 seconds and two bars.

Lastly most of the parking lots have an astonishing time of 15.03 second connection time, and two bars.

If we rank these locations from first to seventh it would look like this.

  1. Science Building
  2. Learning Resource Center
  3. Business, General studies
  4. Science and math building
  5. Quad
  6. Village
  7. Parking lot

It’s safe to assume student Wi-Fi can perform most internet activities indoors, and near the upper floors of the Learning Resource Center.

Fortunately, the Learning Resource Center and Science buildings have benches that allow people to set up their devices. For this reason, routers and modems are likely placed near, or around these buildings.

So if student Wi-Fi is strongest where it is expected, how many students could benefit from this list?

Eric Lindsey, a computer science major, thinks the student Wi-Fi signal is strongest “definitely inside the buildings.”

As expected most students already understand where to locate good signal, since they can be found using their laptops in or near buildings.

If not as a useful tool, this list may support everyone’s assumptions that Student Wi-Fi has the greatest connectivity inside buildings.

Wi-Fi speed and connectivity are not the only things that affect how we use student Wi-Fi.  Most students said they can use Saddleback’s Wi-Fi for browsing the web, but even indoors they have trouble streaming video.

“Not good for videos, good for browsing,” said Dustin Pidcock a student at Saddleback College.

Others had trouble logging into the network, such as Stuart Willson, who has been attending Saddleback for two years. He recounts having to search Google on how to log in to the student Wi-Fi.

At the start of this experiment, I spent 15 minutes trying to log in with my Samsung. Without the help of online instructions I would not have been able to connect. On the contrary, others with iPhones connected in around 30 seconds.

A notable reported dead zone includes the bottom of the Business, General studies building. Lindsey mentions that it has “intermittent connectivity,” and Willson says that “lower classes don’t get much internet.”  

On the other hand, staff Wi-Fi is very fast and is not much of an issue amongst professors and tutors. Amanda Ruud, an English tutor employed at Saddleback for one year, does not have to wait when loading websites, and has never encountered any issues with network connection in her office located in the LRC.

This could be because she has never used Staff Wi-Fi outside of the Learning Resource Center, or that only 10 staff members in her area use staff Wi-Fi.

Of course Student Wi-Fi signal is more congested than Staff Wi-Fi, but As long as users stay near or inside buildings. Reception should not be a problem.

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