Friends, peers, Rice students, the time has come to address the most serious issue that all citizens of first world countries must deal with on a daily basis. For too long have we struggled with the horrendous monstrosity that is Rice’s WiFi, for too long have we hungered for stronger connections that don’t disappear every time we leave a building, for too long have we suffered from internet connections going out every 5 minutes. I say to you, how much longer must we deal with such struggles? Never fear. In this blog post, I toiled many days and many nights to unearth the lies and tyrannies of the Rice IT desk.

Rice IT, in an apparent statement of ignorance and denial, has refused to answer this blogger’s questions pertaining to the WiFi issue.

Rice’s WiFi uses two different frequencies of radio waves: 5 GHz and 2.4GHz. As you might have guessed, the 5 GHz frequency has a faster connection speed than does the 2.4 GHz. Most computers will automatically connect to this higher frequency connection, however, if your computer moves far enough away from a WiFi access point (usually around 15 to 20 feet), the connection will switch to 2.4 GHz.3

But 2.4 GHz is crowded. Think of the two different WiFi frequencies as two different freeways: the 5 GHz freeway is clear, open, and allows cars to go fast, whereas the 2.4 GHz freeway is congested and full of traffic. Generally speaking, a 5 GHz connection is used primarily for laptops and smartphones. 2.4 GHz connections, on the other hand, are used by almost every type of wireless device from garage door openers to baby monitors. With all of these devices using the same frequency, the 2.4 GHz freeway becomes crowded and slow.2

Despite the traffic, all the cars on the 2.4 GHz freeway still have places to go, so the angry drivers start to compete with each other for who gets to cut the other guy off. Just as Houston drivers on the freeway have the tendency to cut one another off (I mean, c’mon, this stereotype is definitely true), so do computers and other wireless devices. When your computer’s Rice WiFi connection suddenly drops and you begin to yell out every curse word in the book, another computer has essentially “cut you off” by competing for bandwidth on the same frequency.

So why doesn’t Rice just use a 5 GHz connection all the time? While certainly faster than the 2.4 GHz connection, the 5 GHz freeway just doesn’t go as far. Many homes will use a 5 GHz connection because the user won’t be too far away from the connection source. However, on a college campus, a 2.4 GHz connection works well and can serve many students.4

There are certainly ways for you to jump onto that bright, golden 5 GHz freeway. One can accomplish this by finding the WiFi transmitter nearest you.1 While this method certainly works, ones does not need to embrace such peaceful solutions in times of crisis. Get in that F-250 and shove everyone off the side of the 2.4 GHz freeway! Rise up, I beg you, rise up! Fight against the oppressions of the IT desk! Sign petitions, grab random pointy objects, pin documents to the door of the IT building! Or just you could just wait 5 seconds for the WiFi to reconnect.

References:

  1. Mercer, C. Here's Why Your Wi-Fi Speed Stinks and What You Can Do about It. http://www.techworld.com/picture-gallery/ux/10-reasons-your-wi-fi-speed-stinks-how-boost-wi-fi-signal-2016-3633986/ (accessed 11/13/16), part of Techworld. 
  2. My Internet Keeps Disconnecting Intermittently- How to Fix? http://www.the-tech-addict.com/internet-keeps-disconnecting-how-to-fix/ (accessed 11/13/16), part of Techaddict RSS. 
  3. Understanding WiFi and Wireless Issues - IT DIY - Confluence. https://docs.rice.edu/confluence/display/ITDIY/Understanding+WiFi+and+Wireless+Issues (accessed 11/13/16), part of Rice IT Desk.
  4. Yamjee. Weird Router/internet Problem. http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/41260-42-weird-router-internet-problem (accessed 11/13/16), part of Tom's Hardware. 

3 Comments