Wireless / WIFI Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I have no idea what to do about getting wireless devices to work on the Internet for my school.  What is recommended?

A: Step one is to determine if you have wireless access at your school.  In your mobile device network settings, look for the "SFUSD" or "SFUSD-GUEST" SSID being broadcast (sometimes shown as "available networks"). If you don’t see those as available wireless networks for your device to join, submit a service request ticket to request a wireless assessment of your school. 

Q: How do I get the password to get on the SFUSD wireless?

A: For the SFUSD SSID, your SFUSD username and password (aka AD account) are all that are required. Simply use the same username you use to access email (without the @sfusd.edu part) and you can connect your device. This is true for personally owned devices as well. If you do not have an AD account, please contact the IT Help Desk at 241-6476.

Q: Is it true that wireless (wifi) is always better because everyone can be mobile?

A: Wireless is very convenient, however it is not always the most reliable option.  Bandwidth on a wireless network is shared, so the more devices competing for that bandwidth, the less everyone gets. If you truly need to guarantee reliability and speed, physically connecting to the network via an Ethernet cable is always your best bet.

Q: How do I purchase wireless devices for my school?

A: Submit a service request providing as much specific information as possible such as where devices will be used:

  • room numbers

  • room types (regular classroom, office, library, media center, computer lab, etc.)

  • estimated quantity of devices

Your request will be reviewed by Network Operation staff who will provide a recommendation of equipment to purchase.

Q: How much does an access point cost?

A: Individual Access Point costs are between $500 and $800 depending on model once you include the bracket, controller license, hardware support, as well as
tax/shipping/etc. as of the time of this publication. (Nov 2013)

Q: Does the Department of Technology (DoT) department provide the Access Points to the schools for free?

A: The Department of Technology does not centrally fund wireless devices to schools.  We can sometimes offset the costs by performing the installation duties, and in certain instances have “matched” APs purchased by the school with some from our own supply, but we cannot initiate wireless upgrades on a school’s behalf.

Q: I want to order five (5) more access points for my school do I just order the same ones I have? Where should I buy them?

A: Due to constant changes in technology and District pricing discounts, please submit a service request to ensure the most up to date information concerning new Access Points for your school.

Q: I can’t get on the Internet.  How do I know my wireless access point is working?

A: Blinking or flickering lights.  If you see that one is not blinking or is flashing red lights rather than green, please submit a service request. If you do see green lights and still can’t access the Internet, more than likely the problem is related to your device.

Q: In my classroom, I can use the wireless network just fine but in the classroom next door, they can’t. Why might that be?

A: Wireless operates on RF or radio frequency waves. Just like a car radio, they are subject to interference and “dead spots” brought on by construction, microwave ovens, competing wireless signals, cordless phones, leaded glass, etc. It is possible the access point’s signal is strong enough to reach your room or bounce into your room on a favorable angle but cannot reach or penetrate the room next door.  You will likely need more access points to reach that room, or perhaps, need an existing access point troubleshot.  Please submit a service request request for assistance with your wireless.

Q: Can I bring in my access point from home?

A: No. We love your enthusiasm for wireless but it’s very important we all broadcast the same signal.  Wireless SSIDs can compete for the same airspace making for a worse experience for everyone.  If everyone brought in their own access points it would be virtually impossible for our support staff to assist in troubleshooting connectivity and computer problems.

Q: Approximately, how many access points does a typical 20 classroom school building need?

A: When you plan for density, you want the maximum possible number of devices to have a quality experience on wireless.  Currently, Apple recommends that for an iPad deployment in schools there be an Access Point as near the devices as possible, which in a 1-to-1 environment would work out to 1 per classroom.  Due to the proliferation of Apple products in the District, our recommendation is in line with Apple’s.  Thus, for a 20 classroom school we would recommend 20-25 access points, including the gym, cafeteria, main office, counseling area, teacher lounge, special education areas, etc.  Educators have come to expect ubiquitous wireless connectivity, so we find it important to plan for coverage in these areas as well.


By: DAVE BURNS, SFUSD DoT Network Operations

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