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Setting up WiFI In Single Room Dorm: Need Advice

On January 17th, I'm going to be away from home for four months for mandatory academy training for my new job. I'll be staying in a single room dorm that I'm told will have WiFi that I can opt in for roughly $120 for three months.

Sounds like a good deal, except I've also been told that the WiFi they give you is pretty crappy. I'm planning to bring a few devices over to help pass the time (my Apple TV, my iPad, and possibly my PC an an extra console, depending on how big the living quarters are). I don't require anything crazy, but I would at least like to be able to stream content at a decent speed.

Since I seem allowed to use whatever service I want with the phone line, I wanted to ask about suggestions on what kind of temporary internet service would be best for me. I'm not looking to break the bank for convenience, but I would like to see what the options are for getting a non-terrible service in a small room.

What would I need to make this happen (I assume a modem and router)? What service provider and service plan would be recommended? Would I be able to use the existing service in my house (Comcast) to include this dorm, or would I'd be better off opting into a whole new service situated in that area?


  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    An Airport Extreme can route internet, and is a pretty good all round wi-fi device (5 Ghz band is super useful in congested environments). Then just drop a really cheap ADSL modem or whatever (like, $20 cheap) in PPPoE bridge mode into the router port on the Extreme.

    You seem Apple-heavy, so it'll be easy to manage.

  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    So that's basically just a really solid router, right? What about the ISP? Which would I use for this thing?

    Also, can this also work with my current household (where I have a router set up that everyone in the house connects to)? The router is upstairs in my room, which means I would benefit the most (officially it's because I'm the only one computer-savvy enough to know what to do in case the internet stops working), but if I could use the Airport Extreme in my room and move the current router downstairs in order to boost the connection for the living room and such while we all use the same ISP, that would make this device a more attractive purchase.

  • tsmvengytsmvengy Registered User regular
    First off, do you connect the PC in the same room as your router with a LAN cable or via WiFi? Using a cable instead of WiFi could improve the signal for the rest of the house.

    What's your current router? You could run a cable from a LAN port on the airport extreme downstairs to your current router. Then people could connect to either one via WiFi. You will have two separate networks though, and devices connecting to one router won't be able to see devices connected to the other router.

    If your current router supports custom firmware like dd-wrt or tomato, you can install that on your current router and use it as a wireless access point:
    That would put all devices on the same network so they can share content between them.

    To your original question, does this dorm setup have a wired internet connection you can use? Or does it look like you'd have to get your own ISP? If it has a wired internet connection that you can use, then you could use a setup like the above to make your own wifi network.
    I don't think we can recommend an ISP because we don't know anything about the situation - location, the setup of the building, etc. Is it a dorm on a university campus? I think a lot of times you can't get regular DSL through the phone; it's not set up like a house. It would be best to talk to someone who knows the situation or has been through the program before.

  • useless4useless4 Registered User regular
    you're going to be stuck dial up if you are in a dorm type environment, the phone equipment won't handle dsl for example. You're going to be hurting for non-metered fast internet unfortunately.

  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    I'm not sure yet if I can have a direct connection to the phone line or will have to connect to the wifi wirelessly.

    In case of the latter, will this suffice as a cheap solution?

    Also, I've been told that I could set up my iPhone to act as a wifi tether for my devices to connect to through ATT, and at no additional cost. I'll call them about it later to confirm.

  • Professor SnugglesworthProfessor Snugglesworth Registered User regular
    So the internet situation could be better. In my dorm they offer a WiFi option you can opt in, but it's rather criminal as it only does 6 mbps and only allows ONE device to be connected. Any additional device would cost an extra subscription fee, and one alone costs $50 a month.

    I've been calling lots of services here to try and find an alternate solution. ATT gave me the runaround saying they may have been able to set up a DSL line in my apartment, but it turns out they aren't authorized to do that. It seems my only options are to either subscribe to a phone hotspot plan (with none offering unlimited service, meaning all the HD streaming I'd do would get eaten up real fast), or do a bridging solution that I'm told would basically register my router as the one singular device for the apartment WiFi, and then have all other devices sneakily connect to it.

    The latter doesn't seem doable with the router I bought, though, so I'm wondering if I need to exchange that for a compatible router in order to do the bridging method.

  • jeffinvajeffinva Koogler coming this summerRegistered User regular
    If no one has mentioned it, download an app that lets you view the usage of the various channels. You want to use the least used one to cut down on contention. Your router is probably defaulting to 6.

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