Wireless Networking at UofH

The University has established Wireless Network Zones around campus where you can connect your portable, wireless-capable computer to the University Network and the Internet, free from being "wired-up."

What wireless IS
Wireless networking, under the 802.11g standard, is a 54 megabit per second (54Mbs) system which allows a computer to connect to a wired network using radio signals. In reality, the performance of a secured 54Mbs wireless connection is comparable to about 1/3rd that of a 100Mbs wired connection, so the "54Mbs" is a bit of a misnomer. Also, as you move further away from an access point (a wireless radio), the wireless speed drops down to 11Mbps, and then 5Mbps, and then 2Mbps.

The conversion from the wired network to the airwaves is performed by a device called an "access point." An access point contains a connection to the network, and a radio and antennas that communicate with wireless-cable computers. The signal is strong enough to reach a computer up to 300 feet from the access point, however, walls, shelves, furniture, etc., dramatically reduce the signal's range. Where possible, access points are installed out of view, however, you can see what one looks like by visiting Mortensen Library -- one is located near the top of the main stairway.

What wireless IS NOT
Wireless networking is not a replacement for wired networks. Although wireless networks provide greater flexibility and convenience, performance, reliability, and security is less than that of a wired network. Compare the difference between a wired network to a wireless network as you would between a "hard-line" telephone and a cell phone. Wireless networks are generally less secure than wired networks, so you may not want to conduct highly sensitive transactions across a wireless system.

A comparison of wired and wireless networks

  Wired Networks Wireless Networks
Actual data transfer rates at 100Mb: 8,000KB/s at 54Mb: 1600KB/s
  at 10Mb: 800KB/s at 11Mb: 480KB/s
    at 5Mb: 220KB/s
   

at 2Mb: 100KB/s

Reliability High Variable (like a cell phone)
Security Greater than wireless Less than wired
Convenience Location must be wired Works where there's a signal

Where you can get it - the Wireless Network Zones
You can view a listing where wireless access is currently available by clicking here: http://uhaweb.hartford.edu/www/WirelessZones.htm.

About wireless security
Obviously, unlike a wired network where data is carried on a wire directly to a network hub, a wireless network transmits data through the air in all directions. It is possible that another wireless computer in the area could be programmed to receive the data.

At UofH, 128-bit WEP security is implemented, in combination with an authentication service which requires you to log onto the network through your web browser. You cannot connect to the University's wireless network system without this minimal level of security enabled on your computer. (For example, you cannot connect your computer to the network that is non-WEP capable, nor one that is only capable of 40-bit WEP.) 128-bit WEP encrypts your data before sending it over the air waves, making it far more difficult for another unauthorized person to intercept and view it. However, you should be aware that it is still possible for an unauthorized person to decode the data stream, and due to the more "public" nature of our environment, we must publish our WEP key to the public, as we do below in this document, which may reduce the "secureness" of your connection. Therefore, it is recommended that you not conduct sensitive or confidential transactions over a wireless connection.

Limitations of use of the wireless network
Due to the limited bandwidth available in the wireless network, you may NOT operate a file-sharing system (such as Ares, Kazaa, BitTorrent, etc.) on the wireless system. You may not operate any kind of a server (web, file, chat, etc.) on the wireless network system. You must disable any such software on your computer before joining the network. Reasonable performance of the wireless system depends on everyone using it doing so in a fair and equitable manner. Users found to be abusing the system with sustained, high-traffic applications will be banned from the system.

How to connect to the wireless system
You'll need to follow the instructions that came with your card and/or computer. Unfortunately, most vendors customize the wireless configuration in their products, so it is difficult to provide step-by-step instructions for setting up a given Windows computer (this may change with Windows Vista). You'll need the settings at the web page listed here in order to configure your wireless system successfully on your Windows or Macintosh system: http://uhaweb.hartford.edu/www/WirelessGottaKnow.htm.

Once your network card "associates" itself with an access point, you must start your web browser. Your browser will automatically be directed to the University's Network Authentication System using an encrypted web session.

When the logon screen appears, enter your University of Hartford e-mail name and e-mail password, and click "Log in". Your computer will now be connected to the University's network and the Internet, and your web browser will then continue automatically to your default home page.

More information about the wireless system and locations where wireless is available are available at: http://uhaweb.hartford.edu/www/index_howto.html.

University of Hartford Information Technology Services