WIFI Information and Usage Hints

You may wish to post this infographic in your school to help you with your school’s Wi-Fi Usage: Max Wifi Use

Below is a more detailed explanation of how Wi-Fi works and what your school can do to have a better experience with your Wi-Fi system put together by our Tech Department Manager.

Overview:

  • Wi-Fi networks operate using Radio Frequency technology (RF).
  • Wi-Fi Access Points (APs) are installed in our schools that ‘broadcast’ Wi-Fi signals to the surrounding area
  • Wi-Fi devices (laptops, smartphones, etc.) contain adapters that detect and ‘tune into’ these signals at specific “RF frequencies” (similar to tuning in to a radio station)
  • Once tuned in properly, the APs provide the Wi-Fi devices provide a wireless connection to the main, physical (wired) network at the school

Wi-Fi Things that can impact your Wi-Fi experience in school:

DISTANCE: Your device’s proximity the nearest Wi-Fi Access Point (AP) – Each AP supplies Wi-Fi within its ‘coverage range’.  This is a physical zone of Wi-Fi coverage that surrounds it – The ‘coverage range’ of each AP is not uniform – it is impeded by physical obstructions and materials inside walls, equipment, etc. – If your device is outside an AP’s range, your Wi-Fi experience will be poor, or non-existent

Recommendations to Improve Your Experience:

**Be near the AP**
**Plan to add more APs where needed**

COMPETITION FOR WIFI bandwidth with others around you – Each AP has a ‘capacity’ limitation, even for devices within its ‘coverage’ range – Other devices around you are also competing for the same Wi-Fi that you want – These other devices include school laptops, BYOD, smartphones, Apple TVs, etc.  – even if these competing devices aren’t being actively used, or even inside your classroom! – Depending on other factors described here, APs should generally service at least 15 device connections with decent connection quality.  With the proliferation of devices normally present in schools these days, even if they are passively competing, that capacity is easily maxed – Beyond this capacity, service and quality drops sharply

Recommendations to Improve Your Experience:

**Install more APs to supply the demand**
**Reduce the consumption of Wi-Fi bandwidth – be mindful and respectful of your use of limited resources (e.g. shown on infograph)**
**When using a laptop cart, always use the onboard cart-AP. – That means you must connect your cart to (a) power and (b) LAN inside the classroom before the laptops are used**

INTERFERENCE: from other equipment – Wi-Fi networking, running on specific Radio Frequencies, are subject to interference that degrades the performance, range, capacity and coverage of the wireless network – The following are sources of interference with our school Wi-Fi ranges:

    1. microwave ovens
    2. wireless equipment like cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, wireless mice and keyboards
    3. building materials in walls, fixtures, electrical cabling and fluorescent lighting
    4. other Wi-Fi devices that are not part of the managed, school Wi-Fi equipment (Apple AirPort devices, Printer Wi-Fi hotspots, 3rd party Wi-Fi networks)

Recommendations to Improve Your Experience:

**Where possible, eliminate, relocate or reduce these sources of interference**
**Identify and Eliminate 3rd party Wi-Fi networks and hotspots**

SHARED use of total INTERNET BANDWIDTH: – Even under ideal Wi-Fi conditions in your school, remember that the total bandwidth available is limited by your school’s new NGN connection – This total bandwidth serves all network traffic leaving and entering your school, including:

  • All network users and devices (Wired and wireless)
  • All internet traffic
  • All inter-District traffic like email, MyEdBC

Recommendations to Improve Your Experience:

**Share the bandwidth – be mindful and respectful of your use of limited resources (e.g. shown on infographic)**

Supporting multiple technologies: – There are several technology standards today in the Wi-Fi space, and each standard is designed around unique capability, performance and quality specifications.  New standards continue to be built – This variety of standards is represented in the competing Wi-Fi devices in our schools – The ability to support multiple, competing technology standards simultaneously means that the individual user and device experience of the shared Wi-Fi can vary, and is significantly influenced by the technologies and configurations in use on the device itself

CONCLUSION:

The factors above, combined, contribute significantly to the immediate and day-to-day performance and experience of each user and device, resulting in almost guaranteed variances in experience every time Wi-Fi is used.  Attention to the recommendations above (they are all dependent of the other) will lead to a better, more consistent quality of experience for our staff and students.