How To Get The Most Out Of Your WiFi
You need WiFi when you get back to school, and no one wants to deal with slow or shoddy service from the internet service provider (ISP).
Here are our tips for making sure you have the best WiFi ready to go once you get back to State College in a few weeks.
First off, the building. Choose a building or property that offers managed WiFi as an amenity. This usually means the building owner invested heavily in having the building wired for high-quality, fiber-based internet and WiFi and is contracted with a company that understands how to maximize wireless service in apartment buildings.
Close to us, one such company is DojoNetworks and you can see its managed WiFi buildings here. With managed WiFi, the ISP is responsible for ensuring you have the best wireless experience and can help troubleshoot issues with your wireless devices. Managed WiFi providers like DojoNetworks typically have systems that automatically make the best use of the wireless spectrum available by tapping artificial intelligence, dynamically providing the best experience for each of your wireless devices.
Some properties include internet as an amenity but you need to bring your own router (or rent one). In others, you are on your own, and you have to go out and find an ISP and deal with getting a router. So if you are not living in a building with managed WiFi included as an amenity, these next set of recommendations will help you with your WiFi experience:
- Make sure you get the best router that you can. You should buy a router that supports at least 802.11AC, or if you have a big budget, WiFi 6, although most devices don’t support WiFi 6 yet, so an 802.11AC router should be just fine. 802.11AC and WiFi 6 are the latest standards and can best deal with interference and wireless congestion issues, and both standards offer dual bands at 5ghz and 2ghz.
- Do not use a router that is a 150N, 300N or 600N model, you will have nothing but WiFi issues, these routers are a very, very old standard and while cheap will cost you in the long run with ongoing WiFi issues.
- It is also generally a bad idea to bring a used router from home or an extra one that you have had for a few years. WiFi standards and technology are always changing and getting better, so an older router can wind up giving you issues. Unfortunately WiFi routers are built to become obsolete after a year or two.
Why does the router matter?
Well, the router can easily be the weakest link in your apartment’s internet connection. Even though it is responsible for a connection that is only 10-30 feet away, it can be affected by all sorts of things, like interference from the 100 other routers in your apartment building, building materials, and yes, even your microwave.
Some providers such as State College Internet offer rented routers where they will provide the router and support the router and connectivity to all of your wireless devices behind the router and in your apartment.
What type of router should you buy and why?
Today you want to make sure you get a router that supports at a minimum dual channel, meaning both 2.4ghz and 5ghz. The other thing you want to make sure your router supports is 802.11ac or even better if it supports 802.11ac Wave 2 or WiFi 6. Again, do not use a router that has a model number like 150N, 300N, or 600N.
How should you configure your router?
You probably want to set your router’s channel to auto — what this means is that when you reboot your router, it will look for the channel with the least interference. So if you are having connection issues, rebooting your router will cause it to search for a better wireless channel.
Make sure you setup different SSID or Wireless Names for both the 2.4ghz and 5ghz channels, DO NOT name them both the same thing. An example would be: Beaver_Terrace512-2ghz for the 2.4ghz channel and Beaver_Terrace-5ghz for the 5ghz channel.
Then the most important thing you want to do is make sure you are connecting all of your devices to the 5ghz SSID and not the 2.4ghz SSID. 2.4ghz travels further but is also much more susceptible to wireless interference and other issues, especially in densely-packed apartment buildings.
What’s the best option in State College?
State College Internet is offering Onward State readers free access to its Managed Router service if you sign up before August 10 and use offer code #OSWIFI. State College Internet will include the wireless router free and with a 12 month package you will get one month free, plus you don’t have to pay for this August either (saving you up to $180). Prices are super reasonable and start at just $24.96 per month.
While State College Internet is the fastest and easiest way to get set up for internet access at your off-campus apartment, but you’ll have to look at the list here to see if your building is eligible.
Visit the website to learn more about why State College Internet, run and founded by Penn Staters is State College’s largest independent provider of student internet.
State College Internet and DojoNetworks are associated with Lazerpro Digital Media, the publisher of Onward State.
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About the Author
Penn State ranked just outside the top 100 in this year’s Forbes’ list of the top colleges in the United States.
Students, faculty, and staff should update their Windows, Mac, iPhone, and Linux devices before they return to campus.
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