Monday, July 28, 2008

Wireless Ping Pong Problems at SJSU

Tech Tips: Are you having problems with having to login constantly over and over to our SJSU Wireless Network even though you are not moving? Maybe you have a ping pong problem.

This is an issue that has been reported. We have not been informed that an easy solution is currently available.

Reportedly, the problem is worst in areas that have multiple access points. Wireless networks use radio. When you have two access points that overlap in an area, the access point that has the strongest signal is the one a computer will choose to use. This process is called "association." Because of all the variability of radio, the access point with the strongest signal can change over time. The computer associates with one, then associates with another and then goes back to the first again. When a computer sees a stronger signal it will change the access point it associates with. This can happen over and over again, a process called ping ponging.

Association has nothing to do with SJSUOne. Association is a radio thing. Client computers associate automatically with little ability for us or a client to control it. Association means the computer is talking to an access point.

Association should not be confused with "authentication". Authentication is what you do when you sign in to use the wireless network using your SJSUOne password. Authentication is an SJSUOne thing. Authentication is not the same as association.

Authentication is the process by which a computer gains access to the Comcast network and from there, the Internet. A user computer automatically associates with an access point and then the access point provides an interface with which a user authenticates using his/her SJSUOne credentials. A user is then authenticated to that access point and can access the Internet. This relationship with that access point lasts until either the user ends the session or the user's computer loses association with that particular access point. User authentication does not roam between access points. So, each time a user's computer reassociates the user has to reauthenticate. Ping-ponging forces a user to have to reauthenticate over and over again.

There is not much we can do about it from this SJSU Help Desk. If this is a recurring problem we need to know as much information as possible about when the problem is occuring, where it is ocurring, and how many people are around using the wireless network when it is occurring and what type(s) of computers are being used. Location should be as specific as possible. Is it the whole room that is having a problem, or just parts of a room? Is it happening when something else, like a microwave is turned on? We need details! We can then forward that information to Comcast to see if they can engineer a solution.

Please send the specific details in an e-mail to:

Need more help? Call 408/924-2377 or send the specific details of your issue in an e-mail to:

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