Wi-Fi Basics: Where, How, and How Much? | Information Technology | University of Pittsburgh
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Wi-Fi Basics: Where, How, and How Much?

Wi-Fi is a necessity for modern working, learning, communication, and entertainment. During a pandemic, it’s even more critical! Here’s how to figure out what you need and where to get it, no matter where you are living or connecting.

Wi-Fi Networks on Campus

The University provides Wi-Fi service for all academic/administrative buildings, traditional residence halls, University apartment-style housing, and hotel housing, plus several outdoor spaces.

  • Connecting to PittNet Wi-Fi (all academic/administrative buildings, residence halls on regional campuses, and a growing list of outdoor spaces on the Pittsburgh campus) simply requires signing in with your University account credentials.
  • For guests in academic/administrative buildings, anyone with a University Computing Account may sponsor PittNet Guest Wi-Fi access. Alternately, visitors from institutions participating in Eduroam may connect using their credentials.
  • Students living in a residence hall on the Pittsburgh campus sign up for a free MyResNet account, which allocates dedicated high-speed bandwidth for each of up to 7 registered devices per student.
  • See the University Wi-Fi Service Chart to see the networks available throughout the University of Pittsburgh system.

Shopping for Private Wi-Fi Off Campus

Students, faculty, and staff living and connecting from off-campus must secure their own internet service from the provider of their choice (e.g., FiOS, Xfinity).

To find an internet service provider with coverage in your neighborhood:

  • Go to https://broadbandnow.com/Pennsylvania to search for providers by zip code.
  • Compare pricing and plans from the various providers, such as Comcast Xfinity or Verizon FiOS.
  • Fiber and cable service are faster and more reliable than DSL. Satellite service is prone to slow speeds and weather disruptions—Pitt IT does not recommend satellite internet service.

How Much Bandwidth Do You Need?

The level of Wi-Fi service you need depends on what you’re doing, how many devices you are using at a time, and how many people are accessing the internet at once.

  • Web browsing and social media only require about 1 Mbps, while streaming in UHD 4K video requires about 25 Mbps. File sharing and gaming are somewhere in the middle.

Those working or learning remotely should have service that provides at least 25 Mbps per user. (MyResNet, PittNet, and hotel Wi-Fi all significantly exceed this guideline.)

If you’re living in a home or apartment with several individuals or will be using many internet-connected devices simultaneously, your level of service will need to accommodate everyone and everything. While MyResNet provides 60 Mbps service to each device, most internet services provide bandwidth for the entire premises (divided among all users and devices).

The last thing you need is to have your internet service slow to a crawl in the middle of a class or for your system to lag or freeze in the middle of an online exam. So it’s important to get a level of service that is appropriate for peak usage, when everyone is online at once.

  • BroadbandNow’s Speed Calculator can calculate the level of service needed for your residence. You’ll just need to answer a few questions about how many internet users are in the home, how many internet-connected devices there are, how often they are used, and whether you engage in heavy usage activities.

Once you understand what you’ll need and where to get it, you are all set to connect to all the services you need for your classes, work, and entertainment. Hook up to the #PowerOfPitt!

-- By Karen Beaudway, Pitt IT Blogger