Internet in Boston: HELP! I'm getting weak signal in my apartment from my university internet. I bought a signal-enhancing antenna for my Macbook Pro, in order to try to enhance my laptop's reception of the university internet, but it didn't work and I'm not sure why. I'm trying now to decide whether to try again, possibly with another product, or whether to pay for a private provider and which one. Any thoughts would be most welcome!
I just moved into an apartment in Boston. Since it's a university rental property, I thought it came with the university's internet, but it turns out that it doesn't, although I have free access to the university's network from the library, student center half a block away, or even standing outside my apartment building or in my street, etc. I can get weak signal sometimes from my university network when I'm near my window (enough for my email to load), but it's erratic, and I need a stronger signal to do anything reliably on the web or use Skype, which is how I talk to my parents and others.
My university IT people suggested that I buy some sort of antenna network adapter, as apparently many students do that, and suggested this
. I bought it and believe I finally configured it right for my Mac (after many hours of my own time and a trip to my local Apple store), but it doesn't seem to enhance the strength of the signal I pick up at all. The signal is just as weak as it was before, and when I look at the other networks available from my neighbors (not to join, just to get a sense of how much the antenna can pick up), they are exactly the same as when I disable the antenna. I thought that either I set it up it wrong or it doesn't work well for Macs, but when I called the company, they told me that if my computer normally picks up wireless internet, it won't enhance it at all, that it only works for computers that don't get wireless normally, which doesn't seem to match the product description on Amazon, or what Amazon reviewers have noted (??). Essentially, I'm extremely confused about the product, and would welcome any suggestions, as if I could get the product to work for the purpose for which I intended it, that would be absolutely the ideal solution.
I'm also wondering the following:
1. Does anyone have any idea whether any product, including the one I bought, significantly strengthens wireless signal (for Macs)? I'm using a Macbook Pro that I bought in the summer of 2009. I can get okay signal if I stand in the middle of the street outside my apartment, and weak signal sometimes by my window in my apartment. Will any product (under, say, 70 or so dollars) pick up enough of my university's internet to give me consistent access, strong enough to surf the web and to use Skype and Youtube from within my apartment? I have thought about whether or not this is ethically problematic (essentially to be mooching off of my university's free Wifi), but since I'm allowed access to it and could spend all day in the university student center using it, I think I've decided that I'm comfortable with essentially using this same access but in my apartment, if I can get it. If you think this is ethically problematic and I should be paying for a private provider, please say, however, as I'm still somewhat on the fence about it.
2. What are the best cheap options in Boston (I'm assuming it's between Verizon or Comcast)? I've never actually bought internet service before (always used my university's), so I have no idea what I'm doing. I only need it for a few months, so one-off costs definitely are a prohibitive consideration, I need a contract that I can terminate in a few months without a fee, I and don't need cable or phone packaged with the internet. I'm assuming there is no low-income option for Boston that I would have access to (I'm a PhD student, and am low-income by any numeric metric). Is it the done thing to knock on my neighbors' apartment doors and offer them a reasonable amount ($15-20/month?) to share in their internet, or is that gauche? I don't know anyone here yet. There's only one of me, I'm often out at the library during the day, and I don't do a huge amount of data-heavy activities (mostly read text-based news and blog sites, although some Youtube and Skype), so it seems a waste to take out a whole high-speed subscription just for myself, but I will do that if it's the best option.