Internet Woes: Who is to blame?

Husnain Choudhry, Tech Columnist

If you were in the school building, and your friend said he can’t connect with people in his math class, you’d (probably) would tell him/her to get a life. Cut to today, and you’d hope that the teacher remembered to record the most important class in discrete mathematics for your poor friend. Such are the woes of Woodson students and teachers alike.

Despite the rapid pace of exploration from the student body (think emojis, profile pictures, censoring), internet issues, such as connectivity, can be a painful ordeal, resulting in poor or no connection. Thus, we need to find out where these internet issues come from. 

First, there are benefits and drawbacks between using school-issued computers as opposed to using personal computers. Many personal devices, for example, possess superior hardware and software capabilities. (Let’s face it: the FCPS laptops are capable of sounding like a small airplane taking off.) Furthermore, personal computers offer administrator access and better privacy. How does this relate to internet connectivity and other issues? Well, for all it’s benefits, PC’s don’t have access to the FCPS network, preventing students from accessing potentially important applications and software, as well as uploading to the shared Classwork folder. 

Looking past the computer, the next object of examination is the modem, an inconspicuous but highly important device responsible for connecting your home to the internet. Your ISP (Internet Service Provider), such as Verizon, is responsible for providing your home internet. The majority of homes in Northern Virginia have connection to cable or telephone lines, so it’s likely that your friendly neighborhood cable/telephone company also serves as your internet overlord. 

An example of a Verizon router. Photo by Tamara Nguyen.

Depending on your internet plan, you may not only have different bandwidth sizes but also internet speeds. Bandwidth is mainly the number of users who can use the same internet connection to do as they please, and the number can vary based on how intense of an application they may be running. Internet speeds are more important to individuals usually than families, as it allows gamers to run heavy gaming applications that require a smooth internet connection. Slow internet speeds is also why when a student is disconnected from a Blackboard Collaborate meeting, one of the first features that stops working is the graphics, because it is internet intensive. Although the modem is very important to an internet connection, there is another device that is almost equally as important: the router.

The router is responsible for connecting all of your wired and wireless devices to the modem, and can be a separate piece of hardware, or just part of the modem itself. 

The modem and router also provide security features that make it possible to keep the internet safe. Your ISP assigns a unique IP address to your house, which is key in detecting those who engage in nefarious activities. As for your router, it likely has some sort of firewall to help keep your internet connection better protected.

Overall, these concepts should better help you to understand where your internet issues may lurk, and if you’re lucky, you may just catch the last five minutes of your ever-important math class.