Monday, August 27, 2012

Better Internet access for your personally-owned computer or phone

Our district previously had two wireless networks for a majority of our data.  There was the network for district-owned computers, and there was the guest network for all other devices.  The guest network was fine if you didn't have any other options for getting on the Internet, but it simply wasn't as good as the district network where the Internet seemed faster and it was filtered less stringently than the guest network.

Cell phone users were especially frustrated by the guest network, though.  The Internet provided by your cell phone company is completely unfiltered, which lets you access Facebook among other things.  People would rather be on their own Internet rather than the guest network for this reason.  Unfortunately, our high schools were built before cell phones were invented, and there are many places in our buildings where there is simply no cell phone reception.   You could see students and staff alike cringe as they walked deeper into the school, not because of their upcoming class but because they knew their cell phone would lose reception... right about... here (draw an imaginary line on the ground right now).

This year, the district has created a new wireless network called StaffNet which fixes the problem by allowing you to have better, faster Internet on any device you own.  Your Kindle Fire, Nexus 7, Mac laptop, iPad, and of course your cell phone will now be filtered less and will have faster speeds on the Internet.

Choose StaffNet from the list of wireless connections, then open up an Internet browser.  You will be asked to "Login for Web Authentication", which is the nerdy way of saying, "What's the username and password you use when you log on to your school computer or email?"  Enter the correct information and you will have the same Internet access that you currently have on your district-owned computer.

And it's okay to bring in that Kindle Fire, Nexus 7, and Mac laptop all at once.  This summer we added new access points that can handle 7,000 more devices across the district.  The bandwidth was also increased from 240mbps to 340 mbps and next summer it is expected to rise to over 500mbps.

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