Downtown Wi-Fi Frequently Asked Questions
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Seven Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) wireless access points or antennae’s were recently installed on several buildings in the Downtown area to create an internet “hotspot” for wireless internet access. Now that the Wi-Fi network is in place, here are some common questions that may arise:

1. How does Wi-Fi work?

Wi-Fi runs on the same unlicensed radio spectrum used by microwaves and cordless phones. The radio signal connects a user’s laptop or handheld device to an access point that in turn, connects to a high speed network, in our case, a broadband cable internet connection.

2. How fast is Wi-Fi?

Although the downtown Wi-Fi network is capable of transmitting data at a speed of 11 megabits per second, the speed of the DSL connection to the internet is 1000 kilobits (1 megabit) upstream (sending data to the internet) and 5.0 megabits downstream (receiving data from the internet). Therefore, the speed of the network is only as fast as the slowest link, i.e., the broadband connection to the internet. Speed is also affected by the quality of the signal, the distance from the wireless access point, and the number of people using the hotspot at a particular time. Connecting to the “hotspot” from within a building in the “hotspot” coverage area is possible but limited based on the factors previously mentioned and the architecture of the building. Someone connecting to the network on the street will find a more favorable connection speed then someone inside a building.

3. Where is the Wi-Fi coverage area located Downtown?

The "hotspot" coverage area extends from the corner of West Main Street and Colony Street approximately 1000’ north along Colony Street and 1000’ west along West Main Street.

4. Is there a charge for using the service?

The wireless internet access provided by the "hotspot" is free to those wishing to connect and use this service. However, to connect to the internet, you must accept the terms and conditions as presented in the Downtown Wi-Fi Acceptable Use Policy section of the Wi-Fi homepage.

5. What do I need to connect to the Wi-Fi network to get online?

Connecting to the service is quick and easy. All that you need to successfully connect to the “hotspot” is an 802.11 “b” or “g” Wi-Fi compliant wireless network adapter. Most new models of laptops and other wireless devices have built-in wireless network adapters. External adapters are also available and can be inserted into your wireless device as needed.

Your wireless device must be configured to receive a “dynamic IP address”, i.e, DHCP enabled. Once the computer is configured in this manner, the network will automatically assign your wireless device an IP address and DNS address which is needed to successfully connect to the internet.

When you are in the coverage area of the “hotspot”, your wireless device should automatically pick up the signal from the antennae’s. The same wireless device may also pick up signals from other wireless networks in the Downtown area as well. Each wireless network is assigned an ID. The City’s Wi-Fi network ID is called “MeridenHotspot”. Users can simply select and connect to MeridenHotspot and begin surfing the web, check their email, instant message, connect to their business network, and so forth.

When you connect to the MeridenHotspot network, you are first directed to the Wi-Fi home page. This page contains ads from those businesses, landlords, and tenants who, in one way or another, have contributed to the development of the Wi-Fi network. Also on the web page is the Downtown Wi-Fi Acceptable use policy. You must click on the “I Accept” link to connect to the internet.

6. How secure is the network?

You should know that data sent over the Wi-Fi network is not encrypted and therefore, you should not transmit sensitive or confidential data over this network. The network is secure however in other ways. Virus protection is available at the internet gateway to provide a first level of virus protection. This should not however, preclude users from thinking that their computer is 100% secure from any and all viruses. Users should always have some form of virus protection on their personal devices.

7. Is the Wi-Fi network completely unrestricted?

No. A SonicWALL internet filter is in place to block out certain websites that may be categorized as potentially harmful, dangerous or questionable. Sites that are pornographic in nature or that promote bomb making, hacking, the sale of illegal drugs, spyware or other malicious sites should not be accessible. This is done for the general protection of those using the network and our citizens.

8. Can I roam without being disconnected?

As you move throughout downtown area, your connection should continue to function. However, if you leave an access area or enter a building, you may need to re-connect to the MeridenHotspot wireless network.

9. Who do I contact if there is a problem with Wi-Fi service?

To report any problems with the Downtown Wi-Fi service, please contact the City of Meriden MIS Office at 203.630.4147.

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