Mythbusters: Student Housing Internet Edition

Student Housing Internet

In our 12 years’ experience designing and managing student housing internet networks, we’ve seen countless advancements in the industry: robust wireless access points capable of supporting 500 users, blazing fast gigabit bandwidth speeds and single users connecting with as many as 10 devices at a time.

We’ve also seen lots of misconceptions about performance, equipment and the general approach to managing MDU/ student housing internet. So we’ve put together our very own Mythbusters: Student Housing Internet edition.

You Gotta’ Get A Gig

There’s no denying that advertising “Gigabit Internet” as an amenity looks good on a brochure. But do your residents really need that much bandwidth? More times than not the answer is no. Many of the student housing properties we serve have bandwidth pipes between 200 and 500 Megabits, and with our Managed Internet Services approach we manage bandwidth down to the user. This approach allows users to get the most out of their individual bandwidth while keeping your community-wide bandwidth costs low.

It’s also important to understand your residents’ internet usage needs. Is your community at a tech-centric university? Are your residents constantly downloading music, movies or video games? Or are they just streaming Netflix? Depending on the answer you might be able to save a lot of money on bandwidth while still providing a reliable connection for your residents.  For more information on bandwidth, check out this video.


Download/Upload Speeds Should Equal Bandwidth

Not necessarily. Even if you have only one user on a Gigabit network, they may not see the full 1 Gigabit download/upload speeds.  The average download speed in the U.S. is 31 Mbps.

A variety of factors could cause slower speeds, including connecting via a wireless connection instead of a wired connection, proximity to the wireless access point, older network interface card, out-of-date hardware, or a slow connection to the website they are browsing.

For an example, let’s look at my current home network. I have 1 Gigabit service and I am currently the only user with 3 devices actively connected via wireless.  I just ran a speed test that gave me 420 download/ 249 upload speed. If I moved a little closer to my access point, or plugged into a hard connection, those speeds would increase.

When you are promoting your student housing internet in marketing materials, it’s important to differentiate between bandwidth and download/upload speeds.


Do you really have to replace wireless equipment every 3 to 4 years?

Investing in a robust wireless network and knowing in 3 to 4 years you will need to replace all the wireless access points can be a tough pill to swallow.  But wireless equipment upgrades are essential to maintaining a strong student housing internet network.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) maintains standards for wireless equipment. These standards are always evolving based on improved technology. Today’s wireless access points are much more powerful than products offered two years ago. It’s the same concept on the device side: 51% of iPhone users update to a new model every two years. That’s not to say wireless access points won’t stop working, they just won’t be able to keep up with the demand of your residents.


Residents can use personal wireless routers to get better network performance.

Nope, absolutely not. Rogue Routers, as we call them, are one of the largest inhibitors to a robust student housing internet network. Their personal router broadcasts radio frequency (RF) interference negatively impacting connectivity to the network.

To better understand this, let’s compare Wi-Fi to you and a friend talking at a coffee shop. If you are alone you will have an easy time speaking to each other.  As more people enter the coffee shop, it becomes increasingly difficult for you and your friend to hear each other.  Eventually you have to slow down your conversation and speak louder to compete with the other conversations.  You may even find yourself paying more attention to someone else’s conversation rather than your own. Your devices will have the same problems on a network with a  high amount of RF interference.

While the latest wireless access points have become more sophisticated in speaking to multiple devices, filtering out all of the interference is still a tall task. When a resident connects a Rogue Router to an existing network, they are adding exponentially to the din and everyone else in the coffee shop is going to suffer.

Electromagnetic signal is generated by everything from Bluetooth devices to microwaves making RF interference a constant factor on any network. Rogues can quickly turn an acceptable amount of interference into a debilitating network problem. At Korcett, we have ways to identify Rogue Routers on our networks, but your best bet is to educate your residents before they connect them. Some of our customers have gone so far as to prohibit routers in their resident leases.


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