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Internet Connectivity: Discounts & Other Tips for Students

As the campus community prepares for remote learning, internet access and connectivity will be essential.

Below is a list of discounts, facts, and troubleshooting information that may help you maintain a steady internet connection for classes, discussions, meetings, and more.  

Note: UMass Amherst Information Technology cannot assist with troubleshooting non-university devices or internet networks.


Internet Connectivity Plans & Discounts
 

Internet Service Plan Offers & Discounts

We recognize that not all students may have reliable internet connectivity away from campus. Several companies including Charter, Spectrum, and Comcast have announced plans to offer discounted internet service for eligible households as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Please contact the companies at the phone numbers below directly to arrange services.

Charter and Spectrum - 844-488-8395
Spectrum Internet Assist: www.spectrum.net/support/covid-19-community-assistance/

Comcast - 855-846-8376 (English) or 855-765-6995 (Spanish)
Comcast Internet Essentials: www.internetessentials.com/

Students with wireless phone service may consider adding a personal hotspot to their plan in order to create their own WiFi network from a smartphone.  Most providers (e.g. Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon) offer personal hotspot service to be added to wireless plans for approximately $10 per month.

Student Discounts on Wireless Plans & Devices

In addition to this, the links below detail exclusive discounts offered to college students by Verizon Wireless, as well as catalogs of wireless consumer plans and internet devices that include special student pricing.

Note: UMass Amherst Information Technology cannot provide support for your home internet connection. 


Solving Connectivity Issues
 

Common Connectivity Obstacles

  • Multiple, simultaneous connections to your internet source. Whether it’s a laptop, an iPad, or a television streaming service, every device connected to your internet network can use up bandwidth, potentially affecting your own connection.
  • WiFi connection interference. WiFi connections can sometimes drop in and out, depending on how far you are from the router, how many other devices are connected, or the number of obstructions between you and your router (metal, microwaves, etc.).
  • Bandwidth-heavy activities. Your internet quality might be affected by other devices performing bandwidth-heavy activities, such as streaming a movie, holding a video conference, or anything that involves downloading a large amount of content.
     

Common Connectivity Solutions

  • Limit the number of internet-connected devices. Do a quick inventory of how many devices are connected to the internet and disconnect any that aren’t needed while using your videoconferencing app.
  • Connect via ethernet or move closer to your WiFi device. If your device supports it, use a wired connection via an ethernet cord. If your device does not have an ethernet port, consider moving your device as close as possible to the source of your WiFi to minimize interference.
  • Pause or cancel any bandwidth-heavy activities. For the duration of your class, meeting, or conference, try to pause or cancel any bandwidth-heavy activities.
     

Other Potential Solutions

  • Turn off video when using your collaboration/conferencing app. A video and voice connection tends to use more bandwidth than just a voice connection. However, some classes may require a constant video connection and this may not be viable.
  • Periodically restart your router. Unplugging the source of your internet connection (i.e. router) and starting it again 10-15 seconds later can clear the device’s cache, potentially improving connectivity.
  • If possible, consider a hardware upgrade. Older routers can struggle with supporting modern, high-demand connections. If feasible, consider upgrading any aged routing devices in your household to solve networking bottlenecks.