Be a Good WiFi Citizen

What does it mean to be a Good WiFi Citizen?

Using MWireless is sort of like what Peter Parker's uncle said: "With great power, comes great responsibility." (Okay, French majors, we know Voltaire said it first.)

It may not be obvious at first, but what you do when you're in your residence halls or walking around on campus CAN affect MWireless' signal strength for those around you. Setting up your own wireless hotspot or router will make sure nobody wins—cooperation and good etiquette is necessary for everyone to get the connection they need! This is what being a good WiFi citizen is all about.

Earn your Good WiFi Citizen Cred

​Your Good WiFi Citizen Recommendations and Best Practices

Choose your connection wisely

  • Use MWireless
    It's the fastest and most secure wireless network available. MGuest is a less secure, limited network. It is for visitors without university credentials. eduroam can be used by visitors from other institutions that also use eduroam.
  • Wired connections have benefits
    Wired connections are always faster than WiFi connections. Using a wired connection frees up space on campus WiFi networks for others who need it. You can connect your game consoles and streaming media players (like a Roku or Apple TV) to the Internet via a wired connection. These devices aren't able to connect to U-M's wireless networks because of security requirements.

Stop sending mixed signals

  • Don't use personal WiFi routers or hotspots
    When you introduce another wireless signal that competes with MWireless, you create a bad wireless experience for everyone.
  • Don't set up your printer's wireless features in your residence hall room
    By setting up wireless printing, your printer will broadcast signals that interfere with MWireless. Instead, use a USB cord to connect to your printer.
  • Unexpected WiFi interferences
    WiFi signals, including MWireless, can be negatively affected by a surprising number of regular things. Microwave ovens, cordless telephones, wireless audio speakers, and wireless gaming console controllers use the same spectrum as the campus WiFi network and can cause the network signal to deteriorate.

This chart identifies devices whose frequencies can disrupt MWireless and offers solutions to help reduce their impact.

Why do personal routers, wireless hotspots and other devices affect MWireless?

All wireless access points (APs) or routers in U-M buildings need to work together so they do not occupy the same channel. U-M carefully designs and operates the WiFi networks in each building to allow multiple U-M access points to work with each other to provide a reliable and stable WiFi environment. When someone sets up their own wireless router, it deteriorates the network. In the tech industry, we call unauthorized personal routers "rogue APs."

Depending on the number of rogue APs, the U-M APs must spend time and energy trying to find a free channel rather than providing a clear, usable signal for everyone to use. In addition, when two access points try to communicate to the same WiFi devices on one channel, their signals interfere with each other and cause connectivity problems for everyone trying to use MWireless, MGuest, or eduroam.

This illustration shows how WiFi signal disruption by rogue personal routers can affect your MWireless signal.

Don't just take our word for it! The Chronicle of Higher Education published Explosion of Wireless Devices Strains Campus Networks on this very topic.