My Wireless SBU General InformationWIRELESS
The following page explains how to get started with My SBU Wireless, gives our recommendations for purchasing a wireless card, and how to maximize your connection speed while using My SBU Wireless. You will also find information on SBU's wireless implementation.
If you have a wireless card, gaining access to the campus network is relatively straightforward: go to a campus wireless location, connect to the SSID "SBU_Wi-Fi," and launch a web browser. You will be redirected to the My Wireless SBU Page login. Login using your network username and password. After you press submit, you'll be directed to the browsers start page.
If you are purchasing new wireless hardware, we recommend G radios, or at least B radios, but never A radios. A radios will not work and G radios will give you better range and great speed, as long as no one in the room is using B radios. Better yet, a combination B/G radio will give you the most flexibility - if you can afford this type of card, it is your best bet for the present and foreseeable future.
Wireless networking provides a tremendous amount of freedom and convenience. Such benefit, however, is not without its cost and risk. One significant cost of wireless connectivity has to do with the throughput or transfer speed of wireless connections. Transmissions going through the air are simply not as fast or reliable as those over a wire. The transmission medium has many other uses; and many factors do influence the ability of data to travel invisibly through the air to and from small devices.
Wireless transmissions go through the air - and the airwaves are something we all have access to - a significant risk posed by wireless networking is that communications between two parties may be readily intercepted by others in the general vicinity. The purpose of this discussion is to present some of the basic technical details of wireless networking in ways that the layperson may understand. We want you as a student, employee, or staff member to take full advatage of the convenience of wireless and use it to its full extent, but also be aware of the issues that can arise.
A, B, G: THE WIRELESS ALPHABET
All communications rely on 'rules of the road' that determine how sessions between two hosts begin and end, how data are transmitted, at what speed, how multiple transmissions take-turns, how communications are confirmed, and so forth. All of these things go into what is called a "protocol."
Protocols are the common rules that all equipment manufacturers and software designers pay attention to when designing their wares. Protocols are also considered reference points to distinguish between different technologies. The three dominant wireless network protocols in use today are known as 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11 g. (Technical note: "802.11" is the standard reference number for Ethernet. But we're not going down this road as this was promised to be a lay-person's document. :-) Suffice it to say that A, B and G are the three dominant wireless standards in use today; and each is dramatically different in how they communicate through the air.
"A" radio waves are faster that "B" waves - so throughput is better with A since more data are transmitted in a given period of time. But A radio signals don't travel as far B. A is handicapped by distance; whereas B carries a signal much farther. A is used in environments that can not handle even a little signal interference, such as hospitals.
"G" radio waves go the same distance as B -but at the speeds of A. B and G radio waves operate at the same frequency as many common appliances such as microwave ovens, portable telephones, and elevators. With more interference comes connection instability; and from instability, slowness, as missed communications must be repeated over and over. The upshot is that there are many factors that go into wireless communications and at present there is no clear "best" choice among the three dominant protocols. B is the most economically priced option and has been on the market longer than G, consequently, B is the most common radio currently available in the consumer market. With B being both the slowest and most interference-prone, however, it is considered inferior to A and G.
Another factor going into the protocol discussion concerns how the transmitters on SBU's access points operate. Presently, each access point has one radios - it is a combination B and G radio (noted as B/G). If you have A hardware will not be able to connected to an access point. If you have G hardware and are on a SBU access point, everything is G - right? Not quite. Because B and G share the same frequency, and - with our hardware - the same radio, communications are influence by the users that are connected.
wireless tip: If everyone connected to the B/G access point has G radios, everyone runs a G-speed. Nice. However, if one person comes in with a B radio. everyone on the shared access point operates closer to B speeds.
HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR CONNECTION SPEED
There is a myriad of other factors that influence connection speed beyond the B or G radio. These factors include how close you are to the access point: the angle, position and sensitivity of your wireless device's radio antenna, and other factors in the location that may influence (for good or bad) the shape and clarity of the signal as it reaches your device.
If you are in a location where everyone but you seems to be getting good connection, try repositioning your device. Many subtle things can make a big difference in reception. Remember, these are waves that are going through the air: they bounce off things; they are influenced by other waves of the same frequency; and they are shared by everyone else connecting to the access point you're on.