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Using the Campus Wireless Network

 
 

We are proud to provide a saturation of wireless network signal to residence halls and academic buildings here on campus. We are currently in the process of upgrading our wireless system, with Wilber, Grant, Golding, Tobey, Higgins, Hulbert, Milne and Schumacher now using new 802.11 b/g/N wireless access points in front of new switching hardware. The rest of our buildings use a slightly older but still very capable 802.11 b/g access point with brand-new switch gear. Over the next couple of years we plan on replacing all of the older APs with newer units.

We have installed access points in residence halls at a density of approximately one access point per ten students. If you walk down the hall, you will see them mounted on the wall or ceiling:

A standard a/b/g Access Point.

The 802.11 a/b/g access points have external antennae on the sides which function best in the vertical position. They are movable in case an AP is installed on a ceiling - in any event, don't bother changing their orientation unless someone has fiddled with them and you want to move them back to vertical.

A new N access point.

The 802.11 b/g/N access point looks a little different, with no external antennae. It uses newer technologies with higher frequencies, more channels, better penetration and throughput. To take advantage of N wireless, your device will need a wireless interface that is specifically compatible.

Our Access Points broadcast two different SSIDs, or Service Set Identifiers. One is "Red Dragon WiFi", which is an unsecured, unencrypted connection, and the other is "Red Dragon Secure" which is encrypted. We recommend strongly that you use the encrypted Secure SSID unless your particular device (usually older gaming consoles) cannot use an encrypted connection. The Secure connection makes it practically impossible for anyone to capture your traffic between your machine and the AP, which is good if you are doing online banking or any other sensitive internet usage.

Using wireless can have its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Everyone likes the freedom to move around and not be tethered by a cable. It can be tricky, sometimes, for us to get good signal to every nook and cranny of our residence halls. Wireless signals can be degraded or blocked by metal and water, so if you consider what may lie between your laptop and the access point out in the hall, you may find that there is a bathroom full of metal pipes and whatnot blocking the signal. Or maybe you located a big old TV or a microfridge in between, or else your roommate taped four or five deflated mylar ballons to the wall in just the right place.

The other issue we see from time to time is interference. There are some devices out there that produce radio-frequency interference that will cause your connection to slow or even drop out. An older microwave oven can do it, as can cordless phones and ad-hoc networks. These are a lot harder to pin down because they tend to be intermittent, coming and going in an unpredictable way. But in the case of a continuing issue of poor service quality in your room, we will do what we can to diagnose the cause(s) and come up with an acceptable solution.

Many students like to use the wireless network outside. Although we currently don't have very many exterior access points installed to provide service outside, a lot of areas have usable signal that leaks out of residence halls and classroom buildings.

When wireless users move around campus, their network devices will usually hand off from one access point to another with no perceptible break in connection. Occasionally a user may encounter a dead spot with little or no signal strength, but these are generally few and far between. Networking has done a great deal of work to survey all buildings and the outdoor spaces to identify these dead spots, and will strive to fill in these areas in priority order with new access points.

If a user has a problem with the wireless network, a call should go to the Help Desk as noted in the page on suspecting a network problem. Networking cannot guarantee an instantaneous response or a perfect solution, but will do whatever is reasonably possible to improve service.

Wireless internet connection

Red Dragon WiFI, the college's wireless internet, is provided in every residence hall and academic building on campus.  To gain access to our wireless network, you will need either an 802.11B or 802.11G wireless unit for your computer.

Additionally, the following residence halls have been upgrade to 802.11N, the newest wireless standard.

  • Golding Hall
  • Grant Hall
  • Higgins Hall
  • Hulbert Hall
  • Littell Hall
  • Tobey Hall
  • Wilber Hall

802.11 B, G, and N are the current industry WiFi standard.  If you purchase a new laptop computer and it comes with built in WiFi, it make sure it is 802.11 B/G/N compatible.  If you need to purchase wireless for your desktop or laptop, remember to tell the sales representative at the place of business you choose for your wireless purchase that you needed a WiFi 802.11 B, G, or N wireless unit.  For desktop computer, it is recommended that you purchase an external USB wireless unit.

Wireless signal

The College's Red Dragon WiFi computer network operates in the 2.4 GHz radio frequency spectrum.  Any wireless device that also operates at 2.4 GHz will interfere with our wireless computer network and degrade signal strength, resulting in poor Red Dragon WiFi signal quality.

  • 2.4 GHz phones are not allowed in the residence halls.

  • Personal wireless routers are not allowed in the residence halls.

Please note that any device operating at 2.4 GHz will interfere and degrade the signal quality of our Red Dragon WiFi computer network.  This includes personal wireless routers.  Therefore, no device operating at 2.4 GHz is allowed in the residence halls.  This include, but is not limited to, 2.4 GHz cordless phones and personal wireless routers.