Delving into Walter Johnson’s Wi-Fi problem

Sophomore+Jeffrey+Sampson+is+frustrated+as+he+can%27t+get+the+WJ+wireless+to+load.

Sophomore Jeffrey Sampson is frustrated as he can’t get the WJ wireless to load.

The WJ Wi-Fi sucks, though part of it is understandable. Wi-Fi speed is based upon a few different factors: how close the user is to any given access point,  the number of people using the network at any given point, the speed of the Wi-Fi when no one or close to no one is using it and the device on the Wi-Fi.

To start, the closer a person is to an access point, the stronger the signal will be. That’s simple. The school only has three networks: MCPSGuest, MCPSSecure, and wMCPS. There are almost 2500 students in the building each day, and if each student is using one network, that averages out to around 800-850 students per network. That’s a lot of users, especially if you factor in faculty and guests using the Wi-Fi. As for the basic network speed when barely anyone is using it, this just goes to show that if the Wi-Fi is bad when no one’s using it, it’s going to be even worse when everyone’s using it.

For a while now, I have been collecting data on the various networks here using the site/app speedtest.net and I have found that the wMCPS network can be fast. Really fast. From one test I did at a quiet time in the building, I found that, when there are few users connected, the school Wi-Fi  can be as fast as speeds of 126 Mbps (megabits per second; 1 gigabyte equals 8000 megabits) for downloads and 150 for uploads. Those are the third fastest Wi-Fi speeds I had ever recorded during these trials. On the other end of the spectrum, however, is during the school day: 0.15 Mbps down, 0.22 Mbps up. Speeds like that are slow to the point where it’s unusable, especially given the number of people connected.

And also, for various reasons, the Wi-Fi will just go down, thus not being able to hold a connection for more than 30 seconds at a time.

There are solutions. I would suggest creating more networks (maybe grade/staff specific ones) and/or more access points. I’m pretty sure MCPS would give us the freedom to try that if we wanted to, even if only as a test program. We could even raise the money ourselves through various fundraisers (involving SGA and the like).

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