Implemented this year in the week of August 25, the new cell phone policy mandates that all students on campus must have the Wi-Fi capabilities of their cell phones turned off from 7:15 a.m.to3:30p.m. This change was brought about because of the new Bring Your Own Device program, also implemented this year, in hopes of preserving the Wi-Fi bandwidth for students working on computers. While in theory, this new policy could help improve the Wi-Fi, in reality, it is impractical and will not help to improve the network’s speed or reliability.
With the largest freshman class in the history of Los Altos High School coinciding with the new Bring Your Own Device program, there are more devices on campus than ever before. Many of these new devices, including the students’ smartphones, connect to the school’s Wi-Fi even when not in use by periodically reaching out and checking for updates. And with over 1700 smartphones in the school, these occasional uses of the network start to add up, using a great deal of the bandwidth and slowing the download speed for everyone connected. Because of this impending Wi-Fi congestion, the school administration now states that all students must have their the Wi-Fi capability on their phones off during class time. The administration believes this will improve Wi-Fi speeds.
However, this new policy will prove ineffective at keeping the Wi-Fi clear of phones clogging the bandwidth. Many students are unaware that this change in policy even occurred and still keep their phones on during class. The only notifications the students received were a single mention on the announcements and on the Student Code of Conduct form that was sent home to be
signed. Although all students are supposed to read the form at the beginning of each new school year, many students simply choose to ignore it because they assume that it remained unchanged from the previous year. This is ultimately the fault of the students; however, this issue just leads more students to be uninformed about the change in policy.
“I had no idea this change even occurred,” junior Ryan Norton said. “I still keep my phone on in class and I know a lot of the other kids do too, whether they admit to it or not.”
Another problem that arises is the students’ willingness to shut their phones off during class time. Whether they know about the new policy or not, most students would be less than enthusiastic about turning their phones’ Wi-Fi off during class, believing the new rule unnecessary and simply ignoring it. Unfortunately for administration, there is almost no way to enforce this policy besides the occasional, “Turn your Wi-Fi off,” at the beginning of class, which is not effective.
Finally, the school is located in the epicenter of the Silicon Valley, one of the most technologically advanced areas in the entire world. The school Wi-Fi should be able to accommodate all of the student’s devices while maintaining a fast and reliable download speed. The students should not be forced to turn off their Wi-Fi on their phones in order to have properly functioning Wi-Fi, a service that can and should be offered with no limitations.
The new cell phone policy is illogical and should not be required for the reliable functioning of the Wi-Fi. The school administration and computer technicians should begin searching for other solutions to improve the Wi-Fi because this new policy will not prove successful.