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Network Connection FAQ

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We recommend using a wired connection where possible to all users of the network, for the best possible internet speed and reliability. If your laptop doesnt have a wired ethernet port built-in we recommend the use of a USB-Ethernet Adapter which are relatively in-expensive to purchase, we've had good experience with:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B077KXY71Q/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_CMwRFb3X547PB?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1 which are USB-C

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B087QFQW6F/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_9NwRFbDMRP1M3?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1 for devices that have USB 2.0/3.0 ports only

Ethernet cables can be obtained from the IT office on request, or loaned from the Porters Lodge for a £5 deposit.

Wired connections need to be registered in the same way that wireless connections do, the easiest way to do this is to connect the ethernet and turn off the wifi on your device, and goto any webpage for example http://www.example.com and follow the on-screen instructions. Once registered you can turn on the wireless again and your device will always use the wired in preference to the wireless connection.

Why can't I use WiFi or why isn't my wireless performance better?

You can of course use wireless, and on phones/tablets/smart devices (ie. Echo's, Google Home etc), that is the only option, the College has around one 175x 802.11ac (Wifi 5) wireless points installed in the College for this very reason. The reason we recommend wired over wireless are for the reasons below.

Basically WiFi performance is dependent on a combination of all of the below:

  • Distance from the wifi point
  • What's between the device and the wifi point, and the angle of these relative to the line of sight between the device and the point (ie wifi penetrating a wall at 45 degrees is much thicker relative to it passing it at 90 degrees)
  • What wireless generation the adapter is ie. 802.11b,g,n,ac,ax
  • How many aerials the client device has in it
  • How many radios and type of antenna in the wireless point have.
  • The channel width of the radio of the wireless point
  • If the client device uses 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz channels.
  • How many other devices are using the wireless access point and how much throughput they are using
  • What capabilities the other devices that are using the point, as the each radio can only support the lowest available feature common to all connected devices
  • The version of the drivers installed on the device
  • The version of the software running on the wireless point
  • Whether SC-Wifi or Eduroam is used, as eduroam has a performance overhead as all data has to be encrypted between the client and the point.
  • Apple devices particularly have a behaviour where they try to seek out the best wifi point to connect to, in a home environment with a single wireless point that’s fine, when you are in range of lots of wireless points, this can be less than helpful.
  • How much wireless interference there is from neighbouring devices (ie. Printers, phones, smart assistants, wifi light bulbs, other wireless points, etc)

So a wired connection is always going to be superior as there are far fewer variables involved, we do have a small number of loan wireless points that we loan to students where appropriate, however 'placing WiFi boosters in areas which are currently receiving poor performance', isn’t the magic bullet as whilst it sometimes solves the issue in the room its placed in, it causes interference in adjacent rooms potentially giving them worse performance.