Cellular WiFi no longer permitted at BHS

BHS has decided to take away WiFi from non-school related devices to strengthen the bandwidth.


Audrey Desjardin, Junior editor

In today’s generation it seems WiFi is necessary to work all of the gadgets on our smart phones, and with BHS taking away that WiFi for non-school related devices it causes another problem on its own.

The school’s WiFi only has a certain amount of bandwidth which is being taken up by cell phones, making the network slower for students trying to get work done and teachers trying to give lessons.

Principal Jeremie Sirois explained one of the many reasons that cellular devices will no longer be permitted on the school’s WiFi.

“Part of it is we’ve got all this testing coming up, the state moved us from SAT’s, which were on paper, to a 10 hour online test,” said Sirois. “So instead of that being our state test we get rated against now they’ve gone to the smarter balance test which is two four hour sessions and two one hour sessions.”

Since the state has completely transformed things, BHS needs to get a lockdown on its network in order to test 200 kids rather than have everybody logging into one secure place taking away the bandwidth.

“We had to find a way to lockdown, so there is our normal Biddeford High School, one where school devices will be able to log in, and then there is a guest network,” Sirois said.

Technology coordinator of the district Donna Sieron believes that the guest network will be slower and students will just have to use their data plans.

“The guest network is going to be limited bandwidth so it won’t allow for streaming, Netflix, Youtube, iTunes, or any kind of audio or video,” Sieron said.

One student, freshman Sydni Coon, feels that if they need to shut off cellular devices from connecting to the network to gain more bandwidth than they should.

“I find it fair because I would rather have good wifi so that I will be able to perform well on my testing than have WiFi on my phone,” said Coon. “I will continue using my phone on my cellular data and not bother with the guest WiFi if it is going to be slow.”

Other students, such as Reed Gordon, who use personal laptops at school have other beliefs on the matter.

“I see no point in extending the [WiFi] block beyond cell phones because, in general, only a few kids bring laptops to school, and what they do use the WiFi for is mostly school related,” Gordon said.

Gordon understands that bandwidth is an issue, but, doesn’t think it’s to the point where outside laptops should become a problem.

“I don’t think it’s fair, especially since juniors and seniors do not get school-issued devices, meaning juniors and seniors are at a disadvantage when it comes to internet-based learning,” said Gordon. “I can, however, see the school’s point in blocking cell phones from the school WiFi. Last I checked “Trivia Crack” had nothing to do with AP bio, or English, but that can easily be played on a school issued iPad.”

The few students that do bring laptops to school will have other alternatives such as the guest network to connect to.

“The guest network is being rooted elsewhere and this was demanded by the superintendent,” said Sieron. “It makes the network safer because there are threats and we did have an incident where a student took the wireless down and that was a huge deal.”

Junior Takara Wright heard about the WiFi situation before Christmas break and doesn’t believe that it is fair to students.

“We sit in school for 7 hours and not having WiFi at lunch breaks makes it less enjoyable especially since that is the only time we’re allowed to use our phones,” said Wright. “Some students don’t have data to use and I shouldn’t have to use my data while at school.”

Both Wright and Gordon have their own ideas on methods that could make the new change more successful.

“To be honest I think the school should keep students on the same network we’re on now and just add a closed network for the computers that will be used for smarter balance tests with enough bandwidth for them to be used effectively,” Gordon said.

Wright has a similar outlook on the matter.

“I’ve seen other schools that have had two separate wifis & one was strictly for guest, I think it would be good for our school to do the same,” said Wright. “I think there should be one for testing and two guests, one for students and one for teachers.”

The changes to the WiFi limitations are made for the benefit of the school systems with testing, but it comes with the cost of limiting students access on their smartphone devices for educational purposes. WiFi is not only an important part of our high school lifestyle, it has also become the basis of our education system, leaving the balance between use and abuse of WiFi blurred.