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Wireless Trouble Shooting Guide

The first step in identifying the problem with your wireless connection is in determining at what level the problem is occurring. Problems can be caused a faulty installation of the wireless client adapter, absence of the appropriate protocols or improper configuration of the wireless client information. By stepping down the following list you may be able to identify what is causing your problem. The information below is orientated towards a Windows based installation using a Cisco Aironet wireless adapter but much of the information is applicable to all installations.

STEP ONE: Are you connected to the wireless network?
You may be in an area which is not currently covered by the wireless network. It's also possible that you have connected to a non-SBCC wireless network by accident. Please check these items to determine if the connection to the wireless network is the source of the problem.  Is your antenna turned on? Some laptops with built in wireless cards include a switch to enable and disable the antenna. If your laptop has a built in wireless card and includes this feature, please be sure you have the antenna enabled. Such a switch will probably be labeled "wireless" or may have a small antenna logo. In some cases, this feature is activated by a hot key combination such as Fn-F1. This is usually indicated by a small antenna logo on one of the keys on the keyboard. If you are using a PCMCIA removable wireless card, this does not apply to you.   If your adapter is turned off the bottom of the client window will indicate this condition. If it is off, select the setting from the main menu that says 'Turn Radio On'.  How is the signal strength? Your system probably provides a signal strength meter somewhere in the task bar at the bottom of the screen, or in the menu bar at the top of the screen. The exact location varies depending on the operating system on the laptop. If your signal strength is low, you may be in an area with poor coverage. Try to get closer to the access point.

STEP TWO: Make sure your computer is in range of the base antenna.
Find out where the antennas are located for the location you are connecting to. Make sure that you are in range of one of the antennas. All operating systems will have facilities to check the wireless network signal strength. Make sure your signal strength is at an acceptable level. If the signal strength is weak, try pointing your card at one of the antennas.

STEP THREE: Are you able to associate with a wireless Access Point?
If you open the client configuration utility on your computer you should be able to tell whether or not you are able to 'see' a wireless Access Point.  This of course requires that you be in an area that has wireless coverage. At the bottom of the utility window it will either tell you that you are not associated or it will tell you that you’re associated and it will list the name of the Access Point you’re attached to. If you are associated to an Access Point then your wireless card is most likely operating correctly.

STEP FOUR: Check the network status.
Find out if other people in your area are also having networking problems. If they can't use the network either, the problem may not be limited to your computer.

STEP FIVE: Is your wireless adapter 'Wi-Fi' certified either 802.11 “b” or “g”?
To be compatible with the systems we are using on campus your wireless card will need to be 'Wi-Fi' compatible. Compatible hardware will usually be branded with the 'Wi-Fi' logo. To see a list of current approved hardware you can go to the WECA website and look at the certified product listing. If your wireless adapter is not on this list then you will need to get one that is. If you have a wireless adaptor that is 802.11a and not compatible with 802.11b or 802.11g, you will not be able to associate with the wireless Access Point. Please note that we soon will have 802.11a compatibility as well, but 802.11a has less range than 802.11b or 802.11g.

STEP SIX: Do you have the wireless adapter inserted in your computer?
The obvious way to check this is to look and make sure you have inserted your wireless adapter into your computer. If you try to open up the client configuration utility and the adapter is not inserted it will give you an error message indicating that the adapter is not present. If you have both a PCMCIA card for wired Ethernet and one for wireless Ethernet and they are both in the computer at the same time, they may conflict with one another. If you are using a Mac, you should disable the AirPort card to avoid conflicts.

STEP SEVEN: If your operating system is Windows XP, have you run the Internet Connection Wizard?
If you have not already used the Windows XP Internet Connection Wizard, you may need to. You will need to navigate to the “Control Panel” and open the “Internet Options” applet. You will need to navigate to the “Connections” menu tab, and click on the “Setup” button. This will launch the “New Connection Wizard” which will walk you through the connection process.  Once the wizard is launched, click on “Next” and you will be prompted with a list of network connection types. Select the “Connect to the Internet” option and click on “Next.” You will then be asked, “How do you want to connect to the Internet?”Select the “Set up my connection manually” option and click “Next.” When the next window appears, please select the “Connect using a broadband connection that is always on” option and click “Next.” At this point, you will be given the “Completing the New Connection Wizard” window. Please click on “Finish.” The connection wizard will close and your connection should be completed.

STEP EIGHT: Do you have incorrect information in your wireless client configuration?
You can examine the current configuration of your wireless client by opening the client configuration utility and selecting properties from the menus at the top of the window. This area allows you to configure settings such as power output, and if WEP is to be used or not.  You should have an entry for SSID; our SSID is “sbccWireless”. If you have different SSID entered it may prevent you from attaching to the campus system. In some cases users may have an SSID entered here if they were using their wireless connection somewhere else (home, office, another campus, etc.) It is also possible that some client adapters may require an SSID (which they may also call a Network Identifier or some similar term). The Cisco client allows the entry of multiple SSID entries so you would then enter the SSIDs of the other systems you intend to access as well. Other brands of clients may organize these settings by profiles.  Make sure that WEP encryption (Wired Equivalent Privacy) is off. The setting for WEP security should be turned off. If you have WEP enabled you will not be able to be able to associate with the campus system as they are not configured to use WEP encryption. Please note that there are other types of encryption as well.Ie. WPA, and they would need to be disabled as well.

STEP NINE: Do you have the TCP/IP protocol installed and configured correctly?
You should have the TCP/IP protocol installed, associated with your wireless adapter, and configured to obtain the IP address automatically. Ensure that your Network Interface Card (NIC) is properly inserted into the PCMCIA slot. When the operating system is running, the LEDs on the NIC should be on or blinking. Make sure that you have signal strength of at least 20% and up. You will find that the lower the strength, the longer the delay in processing network requests. Make sure that the wireless card is set for DHCP. Check the IP address that has been assigned to the NIC. It should be something in the range of 192.168.X.X. If you are given something like 0.0.0.0 or 169.254.X.X, then something is wrong either with the network, the wireless NIC, or the settings on the card.

STEP TEN: Run the diagnostic tool on the wireless card.
Many wireless cards come with a diagnostic utility that checks the card to make sure it is in proper working condition. The procedures for accessing wireless cards' diagnostic utilities vary depending on the type of card and the operating system. Check your card’s documentation.

STEP ELEVEN: Seek technical support.
If you are still having connection issues after following the previously mentioned steps, you will need to get assistance from a qualified technician. Chances are very good that if you followed the steps provided above and you are still unable to make a wireless connection, you may have software or hardware problems that exist on your laptop. Unfortunately, SBCC is unable to provide technical support for personal equipment that is owned by students, staff or faculty. You will need to take your laptop to a qualified repair technician in town, or contact the vender that you originally purchased the laptop from.


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