Trouble Connecting or Staying Connected (Wifi)

I can't connect to the wireless system

NOTE: These instructions apply primarily to Windows XP SP2, but can be used as a troubleshooting guideline for other systems as well.

  • Make sure your Wifi network card is enabled. To do this:
    • Click Start, Control Panel, or Start, Settings, Control Panel. The Control Panel will open.
    • Double-click the Network Connections icon.  (You may need to click "Switch to Classic View" to see this icon.):
    • Right-click the Wireless Network Connection. A menu will appear. If the top item on the menu is Enable, click it to enable the card. If it reads Disable your card is already enabled.
    • Many laptops have a button somewhere that also needs to be pressed to activate your wireless card. This button is usually somewhere on your keyboard, but may also be a switch on the side of your laptop.  This site (http://forums.speedguide.net/showthread.php?t=214308) lists how to turn on the wireless card for many laptops.

  • Make sure you have a strong enough signal, and that you're not using WEP. To do this:
    • Click Start, Control Panel, or Start, Settings, Control Panel. The Control Panel will open.
    • Double-click the Network Connections icon:
    • In the window that appears, right-click the Wireless Network Connection. A menu will appear. Click View Available Wireless Networks.
    • Another window will appear. On this window will be list of Available wireless networks. Check this list to make sure one of the Boreal wireless networks is listed. They will be named BorealAccess, Boreal-Mesh, or the name of the hotspot you're at (ex. JavaMoose). If a Boreal network is not in the list, you aren't receiving sufficient signal strength to access the wireless network. If the Network appears but only one or two green bars are lit, you also probably won't have a strong enough signal to get online. Go to a different location and try again.
    • If you see a Boreal network in the list at the top of the screen, click it to select it and click the Connect button at the bottom of the screen.  You may get a warning message about the system not being secure - click Connect Anyway.
    • If Windows still doesn't connect to the Wireless network:
      • Click the Change Advanced Settings link near the bottom right of the screen, and click the Wireless Networks tab on the window that appears.
         
      • Find the Boreal network in the list and click the Properties button at the bottom.  Make sure the Data Encryption box on this screen is set to Disabled.  Click OK.

    • Make sure you're letting the system assign an IP address and DNS server.
      • Click Start, Control Panel, or Start, Settings, Control Panel. The Control Panel will open. Double-click the Network Connections icon.
      • In the window that appears, right-click the Wireless Network Connection. A menu will appear. Click Properties.
      • Click Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) in the window that appears, and click the Properties button.
      • Another window will open. Make sure that Obtain an IP Address automatically and Obtain DNS server address automatically are checked. Then click OK. Click OK to close the properties window.
    • Make sure you don't have conflicting software running. Some Wifi cards come with their own wireless networking software such as Boingo. If you have Boingo or other wireless networking software running, turn it off. It may interfere with your being able to connect to our network.

I keep having to re-log on!

  • How long has it been since you've pulled up a new web page or checked your mail?  The system will log you out if your connection is not active for over 20 minutes.

My access is really slow, and I get a lot of "Page cannot be displayed" errors

This is normally caused by poor signal strength.  The wifi system is a radio system, and like your FM radio, if you're too far from the transmitter your reception will be poor.  However, there are ways to boost your signal strength and get a better connection:

  • What kind of receiver do you have?  Are you using a wifi card in your laptop or desktop?  The wifi card is the weakest type of receiver, so if you're not getting a good signal you may need to get a bridge and antenna.  Contact the Boreal office for pricing and availability of bridges and antennas.
  • Already using a bridge?  Make sure the antenna is aimed at the nearest transmitter with the fewest obstacles between you and it.  The wireless signal won't pass through foliage or buildings well, so point your antenna at the radio with the clearest "view" to your location, even if it's not the closest one.  If you have a flat antenna, the raised side is the side that needs to be aimed at the transmitter.  (Boreal has a map of transmitter locations in the office - just stop by to check your location.)  Put the antenna in a window if possible.
  • Is your antenna already aimed at the best transmitter for your location?  You may need a larger antenna, or you might need to put your antenna outside to get a better signal.
  • Try unplugging your bridge and plugging it back in.  If the power to the nearest transmitter has gone out at any point since you last rebooted your bridge, your bridge may not realize it's back up and running and so may be trying to get a signal from a transmitter that's too far away.  Restarting the bridge will force it to try and find the closest signal again.
  • Done all of the above?  Check your area for things that can interfere with your signal - the most common are cordless phones and cell phones, but interference can also be caused by microwave ovens, baby monitors, walkie-talkies, or other devices that use radio signals.  If your Internet is dropped every time your cell phone rings, keep the cell phone away from your bridge or antenna!