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AirPennNet Tips: More About the Service

Common Wireless Problems and some of their Sources

Wireless signal drops off

There will be times when users can expect some kind of interference and signal drop off for wireless service. This is because the radio band that AirPennNet uses is unlicensed (by the FCC), thus other devices can operate and share communications on the same radio frequency. Examples of such devices are cordless phones, microwaves, and devices utilizing Bluetooth. Non-AirPennNet wireless Access Points (APs) will interfere with AirPennNet service as well.

Things you can do to try to alleviate this problem:
  • Change the direction in which your wireless device is facing.
  • Move a couple of feet in another direction.
  • If you or your roommate(s) have a cordless phone or other device that may interfere with your wireless connection, experiment with moving that device to another location in your room.
  • If you or your neighbor are using a privately owned wireless AP, it should be powered off.
    (University wireless policy prohibits the use of private Access Points in areas where AirPennNet is in operation.)

Weak or low signal on parts of campus

Wireless coverage across campus is not universal. It is extended based on available funding from departments, Schools, and centers on campus. As a result, some indoor and outdoor areas do not have wireless coverage, or they may only receive low signal from the outer reach of an installed AirPennNet AP that supports a nearby location.

Things you can do to try to alleviate this problem:
  • If you experience weak or low coverage somewhere on campus, refer to the Coverage Map to learn more specifically where AirPennNet coverage can be found in that area.
  • If AirPennNet service is guaranteed at this location, report the wireless problem you are experiencing to your support provider.
    After your support provider confirms that the problem does not lie with your wireless device, they will escalate the report to ISC Networking and Telecommunications for further investigation.

Weak or low signal in the Residence Halls

The goal of AirPennNet in the residence halls is to provide wireless coverage to all areas in each building. However, certain factors will affect this service (see the "Wireless signal drops off" section above). It is also possible that there could be a wireless coverage problem in some areas within the residential buildings. In these cases, ISC Networking & Telecommunications may need to add wireless APís to improve coverage.

Things you can do to try to alleviate this problem:
  • If you consistently experience a weak wireless signal in your room, report it to your ITA, who will first confirm that the problem is not caused by your wireless device. Your ITA will then escalate the report to their managers and, if necessary, to ISC Networking and Telecommunications for further investigation.
  • If you keep a cordless phone for campus calling, use a 900MHz or 5GHz phone, which is less likely to interfere with AirPennNet service.
  • If you have an AirPennNet wireless access point in your room, ensure that nearby objects do not impede its operation (for example, do not hang anything over the AP).
  • DO NOT install your own wireless AP. Not only does this violate University policy, but it will probably contribute to additional AirPennNet service problems in your area as well.

Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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