Wi-Fi Woes: The struggle of staying connected

Seth Culp-Ressler/Features Editor
Seth Culp-Ressler/Features Editor

By Seth Sulp-Ressler | Features Editor

Welcome to the Continuing Misadventures of a Displaced Duquesne Student, a series in which Features Editor Seth Culp-Ressler grapples with his newfound life off campus. For the veterans of apartment life, feel free to laugh at his incompetence. For non-veterans, perhaps the mistakes he chronicles are valuable lessons.

Chapter Seven: The Internet

I really thought I had found the shortcut to end all shortcuts. The cheat code to beat that final boss. The answer to all my prayers.

Free Wi-Fi.

Yeah, I know, talk about hitting gold, right? It’s safe to say payment-free internet is the holy grail for any new apartment dweller. To top it all off, my solution wasn’t even to steal from an unsecured neighboring network. Well, technically it was. But it was all kosher, I promise.

See, ever since middle school I’ve had a Comcast email address. In truth, it was the first email account I ever had. It was set up by my father using, just as you would guess, the email services available through our home internet and cable package.

Now, imagine my surprise when, newly moved into my apartment, I open up the Wi-Fi settings on my laptop and a network called “xfinitywifi” pops up, no password required. Naturally, I tried to join. Much to my surprise, a dialog box pops up, prompting me to login with my Comcast account. Hey, wait. I have one of those. So I entered my credentials.

And then I had Wi-Fi. Just like that.

The clouds parted, the sun shone down and I’m pretty sure some angels sang. Instead of ponying up $60 a month for internet I can get it for free. All thanks to Comcast’s secure hotspot program, which has millions of these things around the country, free of charge for their customers. This one was running off the router owned by the first floor business in my building. There’s probably one near you, too. Time to call up the parents for the login details, right?

Well, not so fast.

As you may remember from a few paragraphs back, I thought this was the answer. This isn’t a Comcast marketing pitch, and the hotspot was not a long term solution. After a week or two the connection started slowing to an agonizing crawl. I’ll always argue that slow internet is worse than no internet. It was time for a change — a $60 per month change.

Even better, that $60 isn’t for some comprehensive package that includes cable and internet. Nope, it’s merely the cheapest internet-only option for Verizon Fios, the service our unit was already outfitted for. That sounds like a lot to cough up, but it’s not all bad.

The reason my roommate and I didn’t opt for cable is a simple one — we wouldn’t use it. All of our television consumption happens online. Streaming high definition video, though, requires a pretty robust connection speed. Luckily, that depressing Verizon bill does get us that.

But, yet again, things weren’t what we wanted. The internet was great for a bit, and then, for me, things slowed down. As said, I despise slow internet. It angers me like perhaps nothing else in this world. I needed a solution.

I took to Google for some answers. What I learned is that our immediate area was way too clogged up with Wi-Fi networks. It’s true; apparently there are only a set number of workable Wi-Fi frequencies, and only a set amount of data can be transferred at any one time. On an apartment-heavy block like ours, the noise was just too strong.

Thus we come to the final solution to my internet woes — hardwiring my connection. It turns out you can buy huge lengths of ethernet cable on Amazon for stupid cheap. So, with 50 feet of it and some sticky 3M wall hooks, I snaked that sweet, sweet internet straight to my computer.

Let me tell you something — there is nothing like reliable, ridiculously fast internet. Any streaming, downloading or uploading is done in a heartbeat. My blood pressure took a sharp dive after a few days of recovery from dealing with molasses for Wi-Fi.

After reading through my ramblings here, I’m not sure I’ve provided any kind of coherent lesson. At the very least, I hope my own headaches can help streamline the internet process for others. It sucks, it really does. But, hey, I made it to the other side and now I’m streaming 4K videos all day long. If I did it, you can too.

See you on the interwebs.