Be a Wi-Fi Wizard with These Tips and Tricks

SMU WirelessOver the past several years, we have become more and more reliant on Wi-Fi for our phones, tablets, and laptops. Still, many of us still don’t know what to do to get the best signal for our device. I talked with Brad Floyd, one of OIT’s senior network specialists, about some things we can do as consumers to improve our Wi-Fi experience.

Connect to the right network.

As you walk the campus, you will notice we have several Wi-Fi networks available to us. PerunaNet, SMU_Guest, and eduroam. Each network is zoned from the other and serves a specific purpose.

PerunaNet

PerunaNet is SMU’s secured wireless network and is only available users with an active SMU ID and password. PerunaNet is available throughout the campus and is the network we recommend for all mobile devices at SMU. If you can connect to it, use it.

SMU_Guest

We know some devices will not connect to PerunaNet and for those devices, we have SMU_Guest. SMU_Guest will allow devices that can not support PerunaNet’s security, such as Smart TVs and e-paper Kindles, to use the SMU wireless network. For those devices to be allowed on the network, they will need to be registered first on SMU Device Registration page.

Also, as the name suggests, this network is available to guests of the university. This means that anyone can access this wireless network and it will not be as secure as PerunaNet.

eduroam

This secure wireless network is an option for visiting scholars. While you can also connect to it using your SMU email and password, the greatest benefit of this network is that it’s available worldwide. eduroam is a secure worldwide federated wireless network for individuals in higher education or research environments. This large-scale collaboration between hundreds of institutions allows you to authenticate to the “eduroam” network at other universities and research organizations using just your SMU email address and SMU password.

Remember only the right network.

With all these networks, it easy to want to get connected to each of them, so you will always be connected. But, that might not be the best of ideas. Brad Floyd said that you should “Only have [your] devices configured for one of our three wireless user networks at a time.” He suggested you should, “‘forget” the other two networks.”

By having the device, such as your phone, set to “Auto Connect,” your phone will choose which network it wants to connect to – even switching while you walk between classes – between access points. You may notice this as a dropped connection. By just choosing the one, say PerunaNet, the device will try to stay connected to that network and hand off the connection to the next access point offering PerunaNet.

Limit the number of networks.

If you find you use your device or phone temporarily on wireless networks, other than SMU or your home, such as hotels, Starbucks, or other free public Wi-Fi, it is recommended that you delete or forget those unused wireless networks. If your phone is already set to automatically connect to those hotspots, “Your device will spend more time ‘looking’ for those networks.” Mr. Floyd cautioned that “This ‘looking’ translates into higher battery usage and wasted processing time... and might even be a security risk.”

Secure your network.

“Wireless is not stopped by walls,” Mr. Floyd warned. Someone can access an unsecured network with minimal equipment and receive your signals. It’s best to “Avoid open wireless networks as much as possible.” If you are hosting a wireless network, it is best to “layer as much security on top of your connection as possible.” Mr. Floyd recommended using secure protocols with your browser, such as https or connecting with a VPN.

With these tips, you will have a better experience with your Wi-Fi on campus. If you have any questions about your campus wireless connection, please feel free to contact the IT Help Desk at 214-768-HELP.

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Ian Aberle

Ian Aberle is the IT Communications Specialist and Trainer for the Office of Information Technology (OIT) at Southern Methodist University (SMU). He started at SMU in 1996 and, for much of his career at the University, had managed the SMU STAR Program before joining the Training & Communications Team in 2015. In his free time, Ian enjoys photography and road trips with his family. You can see examples of when the two collide at ianaberle.com.