Troubleshooting Network Connectivity Off Campus

If you are using your personal or college-owned laptop or other network equipment off campus, whether at a public hotspot or through your own ISP at home, this guide can help you troubleshoot speed and connectivity issues.

 

 


Check your Internet connection

Your ISP (Internet Service Provider; some examples are Spectrum, AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, etc.) provides a link to the outside world to your home or business through a modem. Before anything else, you should verify that you have an active internet connection to your modem.

Make sure you have an active Internet connection

Make sure your modem’s Internet status light is lit. Sometimes this appears as a globe icon. If others in your household are connected to the same internet connection and are able to get online, you can assume that your connection is probably active. If not, contact your ISP or check their support documentation for assistance.

  • This information applies to cellular hotspots and lower-bandwidth internet providers, including satellite, DSL, etc.)

  • You can “power cycle” your modem by unplugging power from it, wait for 10 seconds, then reconnect power. This will ‘reboot’ the modem. Wait 2-3 minutes for it to reboot.

  • Make sure your modem has a tight connection to the cable or phone line that feeds it.

Make sure your wireless router is connected to the Internet

After confirming that your ISP is providing you with an active connection, check to make sure your wireless router is connected to the modem properly. Check for a WAN status light (may also be labelled Internet, Broadband, or Modem) and make sure it is active. Refer to your router’s documentation for support.

  • Some internet providers may give you one device which provides a modem and wireless router in one.

  • If you have both a modem and router, there should be an Ethernet cable connecting your modem’s LAN port to the router’s WAN port.

  • You can check to see if your router is connected properly by connecting a working laptop to one of the LAN ports on the router with an Ethernet cable.

  • You can “power cycle” your router by unplugging power from it, wait for 10 seconds, then reconnect power. This will ‘reboot’ the router. Wait 2-3 minutes for it to reboot.

Test your connection speed

An Internet connection’s speed is measured in Megabits per Second (Mbps), and internet service is sold with performance standards that are often “up to” some speed in Mbps. This does not mean that you will always reach this speed - especially during peak hours such as after normal work or school hours, or during the day when many people may be working from home. You can use this information to gain some insight about your home internet connection speed.

  • Visit https://www.speedtest.net/ and click the Go button to record your Ping, Download, and Upload speeds.

  • Ping is a measure of how quickly information travels from your computer to another computer on the internet and back. Anything under 25 ms is good; up to 100 is ok but may be slow for some online games; up to 250 is slower than average; above 250 may mean there are significant delays in your connection. Note that ping times vary greatly due to many factors.

  • Download speeds can vary, from just 1-2 Mbps on a slow connection (cellular data, in a low coverage area; or when using Satellite or DSL internet) to 5-10 Mbps (slow for broadband, but enough for one person to browse the web without much slowdown) to upwards of 100 Mbps or more (depending on many factors).

  • Upload speeds also vary but are generally only a percentage of your download speed. Expect this speed to be 10-15% or more of your download speed.

 


Check your wireless network

An active Internet connection and working wireless router are the first steps in connecting to the internet wirelessly in your home. Here are additional things to check if you cannot connect to the internet wirelessly.

Try a physical connection via network cable

Make sure your wireless router is providing internet connectivity through a physical connection before troubleshooting wireless connections.

  • Connect a known working computer via Ethernet cable to one of the LAN network ports on your router. There are usually 4 of these ports on most consumer routers. If this connection allows the laptop to connect to the internet, your router is probably connected properly as well.

  • If you don’t immediately get a connection, try another Ethernet cable or another port on your router if possible.

Make sure your network is broadcasting

Make sure your wireless router is broadcasting a wireless network, and verify the password if one is enabled.

  • On devices like your laptop or phone, navigate to the device’s Settings and find Wireless Settings (sometimes called “Connection Settings”, “Wifi”, “Network”, etc.) Browse the available wireless networks and make sure your network is visible in the list of available networks. Try to connect with the password you were provided with your modem or router.

  • Some wireless routers have a sticker with the name of your wireless network and passphrase on the bottom or side of the device. Look for this sticker to verify the network name and passphrase.

    • Wireless Network names are also called the SSID or Network Identifier

    • Wireless network passwords are also called passphrases, passcodes, or WPA or WEP keys

  • Test your wireless network connection from as close to the router as possible to avoid distance or interference issues.

Connect wirelessly and test your connection

Check to see that your device can connect to your wireless network in a different location. Distance and interference from other electronic devices and the construction of your home can prevent connectivity in one room while still allowing it in another.

  • Find a device (like a laptop) that can connect wirelessly while very close to the router. Move gradually farther away, and look at the wireless signal strength reported by your device. When you get down to less than half signal strength, distance or interference may be an issue. Try turning off nearby devices that broadcast radio waves such as security systems, baby monitors, microwaves, radios, or intercoms.

  • If you have other wireless devices such as network repeaters, try powering them off temporarily. A misconfigured repeater can make it look like you are connected to your network, but the repeater may not actually be able to connect you to the internet.

  • If none of your devices are showing the wireless network name you expect to see, you may need to reset your router. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for more information on doing so

Verify that your devices can reach the Internet

Make sure there is a path from your computer to the internet. After you have connected your device to your wireless network, perform tests to see if you can access different web services.

  • A quick test is to open a web browser and navigate to www.google.com - this should immediately load the Google web page. If not, try another web browser to be sure.

  • Try a second website such as www.speedtest.net which has the added benefit of testing the speed of your internet connection.

  • You can test the connection from your laptop without using a web browser:

    • On a Mac, open Network Utility, click the Ping tab, type www.google.com and click Ping. You should see something like the following:

      1 64 bytes from 172.217.6.100: icmp_seq=0 ttl=49 time=30.707 ms


      If you see an unsuccessful message like the following:

      1 ping: cannot resolve www.google.com: Unknown host


      then your computer is connected to your wireless router but further support will be needed.

    • On a PC, click Start, type “Command”, and click on the app Command Prompt. Type “ping www.google.com” (no quotes) and press Enter. You should see something like the following:

      1 Reply from 172.217.6.100: bytes=32 time=9ms TTL=53


      If you see an unsuccessful message like the following:

      1 Request timed out.


      then your computer is connected to your wireless router but further support will be needed.

 


Check your computer

Verify that you can connect to wireless networks

Make sure your laptop or other device is capable of seeing and connecting to wireless networks. If a neighbor has a wireless network or if there is an open, public network available nearby, try connecting to see if the problem is limited to your own network.

  • Make sure the Wifi switch on your computer is turned on. Sometimes, there is a physical switch with an icon of an antenna next to it, on the side or front edge of your laptop. Some computers require you to press a keyboard combination to enable or disable the internet wireless radio. Refer to your computer manufacturer for further support.

  • Try rebooting your computer; common software issues that can interrupt your internet connection can be resolved this way.

  • Disable any ‘network security’ or ‘firewall’ software on your computer. Some security software can be overzealous at blocking network connections and may be blocking your home network.

  • If your cell phone allows wifi tethering, try enabling your phone’s hotspot and see if you can connect your computer to it.

Verify that your computer can connect via Ethernet cable

If your computer can see and connect to your home network but still can’t connect to the internet, try connecting the laptop to your router via Ethernet cable and see if you still have problems. If neither connection works, there may be an issue with your ISP or there may be a software issue preventing your computer from connecting.

  • Connect your computer directly to one of the LAN ports on your router and see if you are able to use the internet

  • Try connecting your laptop directly to your modem, if you have a separate modem and router.

    • Unplug power from the modem and wireless router.

    • Connect your laptop to the modem via Ethernet cable - use the same cable that went from your modem to your wireless router

    • Reconnect power to the modem, and reboot your computer. Once your computer has rebooted, try connecting to the internet again.

  • Try another web browser if the one you use primarily isn’t working. Alternatives include Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera.

  • Try another app that uses the Internet - such as a messaging app or game - instead of a web browser.

Try other devices

Connect or make note of which devices can or can not connect to the Internet through your wireless network. You may find that only computers can connect while devices like game consoles can not. You may find that anything connected via Ethernet cable works, but no wireless devices work. Test as many different types of devices as you can.

  • Try another computer if you have one - even if it’s outdated or slow.

  • Try game consoles, cell phones, smart TVs or Blu-ray players, etc.

  • If possible, test your device at another location, such as a friend or family member’s home or a public hotspot.

 


Further Support

If the above troubleshooting steps were unable to help you, LITS can offer limited support for home networking issues. Make a note of which of the above steps you were unable to complete and as much other relevant information as possible, and then email itsupport@beloit.edu or submit a SchoolDude ticket for further troubleshooting.