Dead zones impede phone Wi-Fi access

Published by Jazmin Ode on

Being connected to the internet is virtually required now, especially in current education. Why has it been difficult to connect to the internet
Infographic created by Jazmin Ode / The Mainstream

Many staff and students are still having trouble connecting to the internet even though campus just finished putting in additional and more powerful wifi access point devices and upgraded to higher speeds with increased power.

These Access Point devices, also known as AP devices, act as a communication hub between the user’s device and the wireless Local Area Network or LAN.

Tim Hill, UCC’s recently retired director of information technology. He has been in the information technology, IT, field since 1980
Mason Ramirez / The Mainstream

The new AP devices are working, but the connection problems for students and staff haven’t stopped. “Some phones are older and don’t necessarily offer rights to run on wifi with their data plans; they run on or stay on cellular. T-Mobile is notorious for this. We actually have a young lady that runs out to the fountain to get her cellular signal, and then she runs back in,” Tim Hill, UCC’s recently retired director of information technology, says. The connection problem, he explains, is the phone or the cell coverage, not the campus wifi.

One problem is that students’ phones or their internet service provider or even their coverage plan may force them into using cellular data instead of local wifi, even if they are logged onto a wifi network. Wifi is a connection through a router that allows users to reach the internet because the local cellular tower network isn’t strong enough.  

The main UCC campus includes different small dead zones for some of these carriers, so those who are noticing inability to access the internet or receive messages or phone calls should try researching providers’ data coverage. Also research whether your text system is wifi or cellular. Android phones must text on cellular data, not wifi, for example.

UCC’s location is also problematic for users who have to use cellular data because of their phones or provider or coverage plans. Because UCC is close to a river within a valley, accessing strong cellular service through providers’ towers can be difficult or, in some small dead zones on campus, impossible.

Being connected to the right wifi may also be the problem.

Students should connect to campus wifi using the UCC-Guest Wi-Fi option on their phones (not the old UCC_Guest wifi). Sometimes, after the user clicks on UCC-Guest, the phone will say “sign into the network. / Not secured.” This means an additional step is required to click again. A second click (or touch on touch screens) will take the user to UCC’s “Terms of Use.” Clicking “Accept and Continue” will allow connection. Students should be aware that a UCC-Guest has a time out feature, so students may need to re-sign in. This doesn’t mean the Wi-Fi is weak. 

UCC staff should consider instead signing in to the UCC-WIFI option on their personal devices. This will prevent staff from getting timed out, like everyone does on the UCC-Guest network, and it will provide staff much better security with a likely stronger signal. This may be helpful for staff who have to receive a code on their phones in order to sign in to a computer system or app. This may still be a problem for Android users, though, because Androids use cellular connections, not internet, for texting.

UCC requires an IT employee to input the password for accessing UCC-WIFI, so staff must put in a helpdesk ticket to get assistance getting access into this network on their personal devices. Just one helpdesk ticket will be needed.

Many who are trying to access campus wifi may see the network “UCC-A.” This wifi is only for equipment that UCC owns or manages, such as the teaching stations and computers that are used by staff on campus.

The Wi-FI upgrades were planned for installation by May; however, it took 18 months for all of the parts to come in along with the fact that the Warehouse building had to make custom brackets for installation of the access point devices in every building. The new system is now supposed to be able to handle the new phones as well as the older phones or iPads.

Any staff or student having internet connection issues can contact Austin Miller at 541-440-7808. 

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