Access Keys:
Skip to content (Access Key - 0)

Problems connecting to the wireless network at MIT

On this page:

Overview

Here you can find some common recommendations for resolving wireless connection problems in the MIT residence halls and academic buildings.

Self-service troubleshooting

Updating Wireless Drivers

This is important especially for computers that have Intel wireless cards. Intel drivers prior to Fall 2009 do not function well with the wireless infrastructure installed at MIT.

If you have a computer running the Windows operating system, please check to see if you have Intel Wireless drivers. This can be found by going to:

Disable power savings mode for the wireless card

Some operating system/computer combinations are capable of throttling the power delivered to a wireless card when it is either not heavily used or when the computer is in sleep mode.  This can cause some connection problems or result is slower connectivity. If you're having trouble with the wireless network, please try to disable this feature.

Radio hardware and software switches

Each wireless card and computer manufacturer has a different way of disabling the radio or wireless card antenna. If you are receiving very low or no signal strength from the MIT wireless networks please be sure that your radio is on. First look for a hardware switch on your device. Some devices implement a hardware switch using the "Fn" key. Hold down "Fn" and press the key with a radio tower. You should get a message telling you if you have just turned WiFi on or off. Refer your laptop manual for more information.

Tip:
  • In MAC OS X, you can click the airport icon in your system tray and select Turn Airport On.
  • Versions of Windows XP before Service Pack 2 use a manufacturer's utility to configure wireless settings. Computers running Windows XP Service Pack 2 or later can use either Window's utility or the manufacturer's utility. Look for the WiFi icon on the right-hand side of the taskbar.
  • With Windows Vista or 7, almost all devices use the Windows utility. Look for the WiFi icon on the right-hand side of the taskbar.

Disable IPv6

For a full description of why disabling IPv6 can help you get a better connection on the MIT wireless network, please see the following knowledge base article: Disable IPv6

Setup your preferred networks

Most operating systems allow for an order of priority that wireless networks will be connected to. If you notice that your computer is connecting to a wireless network that is not one of the recommended MIT wireless networks, or if you want to always prefer 5 Ghz connections, you should update the order of your preferred wireless networks: How to remove preferred or saved networks from your wireless settings.

Interference

In addition to active interference caused by other radio waves, wireless network signals can be disrupted by physical obstacles including some types of windows, building materials, furniture, and appliances. Often refrigerators placed in the line of sight or near a wireless device can cause serious degradation of signal.
If you are noticing problems connecting to the wireless network, please keep these questions in mind:

Do you have a cordless phone?
Can you see or connect to networks not called "MIT"?
How far away is the nearest access point?
Are there large appliances, doors, walls, metal objects or structures between where you work and where the closest access point is?

Wireless access point antennas

Please DO NOT modify the antenna alignment.

The wireless antennas are aligned vertically by the Network Infrastructure group to take advantage of multipath interference to provide faster connectivity. Modifying the antenna alignment may diminish the effectiveness of the access points. The correct alignment is three top antennas facing straight up and the three bottom antennas facing straight down.

Reporting a problem to IS&T

IS&T is committed to resolving problems and concerns that are reported on the wireless network. Since there are many different types of outages on the wireless network, IS&T needs some additional information to help resolve them and determine if there are any trends. Connection issues should be reported to the IS&T Helpdesk by email, phone or by filling out a help request. The Residential Computing Consultants (RCCs), at the IS&T Helpdesk are responsible for troubleshooting wireless issues in dorms.

Overview of troubleshooting steps and Information requested:

  • Update wireless drivers
  • Building and Room number
  • MAC address, BSSID, SSID (network name) - all included in Windows Vista/7 and Mac OS X IS&T script (below)
  • Speed estimate (SpeedTest.Net is a reliable source for speed tests.)
  • Description of the symptoms
  • Date and time that the problem occured

Description of the problem

Some problem reports are light on what the problem is or how it manifests.

  • Is it slow, intermittent or does it never work?
  • Does it work well in some places, not others?
  • Is the signal strength high or low?
  • Any other details you can think of

How to gather specific information (SSID, BSSID, MAC addresses)

IS&T Network Information gathering script

This application is intended to make data gathering easier while working with IS&T to troubleshoot wired or wireless network problems. The script will run a few commands for Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 or Mac OS X and put a diagnostic file on your desktop. You can then attach the diagnostic file in a reply email to the MIT Computing Help Desk or Residential Computing Consultants. Please see below for directions on downloading and running the script.

Running the IS&T Network Information gathering scripts

Mac OS X

Due to Gatekeeper, this file will not run immediately after downloaded on Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) and up. You can still use this script on these OS X versions by disabling Gatekeeper.
  1. Download the following file to your computer running Mac OS X: IST Network Information for Mac OS X.zip
  2. Double click on IST Network Information for Mac OS X.zip to extract the folder.
  3. Double click on IST Network Information for Mac OS X script.
    • The application will put a file on your Desktop called IST-Network-Troubleshooting-Info_<datestamp>.txt
  4. Send a copy of this file to IS&T

Windows 8/7/Vista

  1. Download the following file to your computer running Windows: IST_Network Info for WinVista and Win7.vbs
  2. Double click on the file IST_Network Info for WinVisa and Win7.vbs to run it.
    • When the application completes, it will put a file on your Desktop called IST Network Information_<datestamp>.txt
  3. Send a copy of this file to IS&T.

Windows XP

Windows XP users: Because Windows XP does not include the necessary components to gather information about the wireless network interface, a script has not been included. You can find some information below about how to obtain the IP address, MAC address and BSSID information that is gathered in the Windows Vista, 7 and Mac OS X scripts. Unfortunately, this information is not always easily obtainable in Windows XP. We very much appreciate the information if you can get it. If not, please provide the MAC address (instructions below) and the network name you connect to (ie... MIT, MIT N or MIT GUEST).
  1. MAC address:
    The MAC address can be retrieved from the ipconfig command following the instructions detailed here: http://kb.mit.edu/confluence/x/QTZB
  2. Channel and Signal Strength:
    The signal strength and Channel number can usually be obtained through the Windows wireless configuration utility or through the configuration utility that your wireless card is configured with. You can also use third party applications such as Netstumbler
  3. BSSID:
    The BSSID is not directly available in Windows XP. Some wireless configuration utilities (Dell/Intel) may provide that information, but you can always get that information from using a tool like Netstumbler

Linux

We do not currently offer an application for obtaining network information on Linux systems. An open source project called 'wireless-tools' is available than can be used to retrieve information comparable to that collected by our Mac/Windows scripts.

  1. Obtain the wireless-tools package. The package is preinstalled on some distributions, including Ubuntu Desktop. Instructions for its use and its installation can be obtained from Hewlett-Packard.
  2. Run the following two commands.
    • The first command will return information about the wireless network currently connected to your computer.
    • The second command will return a list containing detailed information about all the wireless networks surrounding your computer.
  3. Copy the output of the previous commands into an appropriately named text file. Please include this result in your wireless request ticket.

See Also:

The Wireless Networks at MIT
How to connect to the MIT SECURE wireless network
The MIT GUEST wireless network
What's the difference between the MIT wireless networks?
Troubleshooting and reporting problems on the MIT wireless network
List of devices that can or can't connect to MIT SECURE

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members


Last Modified:

August 27, 2014

Get Help

Request help
from the Help Desk
Report a security incident
to the Security Team
Labels:
rescomp rescomp Delete
wireless wireless Delete
cisco cisco Delete
1250 1250 Delete
rcc rcc Delete
c-wireless c-wireless Delete
ist-top-five ist-top-five Delete
networktroubleshooting networktroubleshooting Delete
Enter labels to add to this page:
Please wait 
Looking for a label? Just start typing.
Feedback
This product/service is:
Easy to use
Average
Difficult to use

This article is:
Helpful
Inaccurate
Obsolete
Adaptavist Theme Builder (4.2.3) Powered by Atlassian Confluence 3.5.13, the Enterprise Wiki