Wireless networking has been become increasingly prevalent in public places and our own homes over the past few years, and many of us have begun to rely on its availability. At Wesleyan, wireless coverage is available in more than 90% of the campus, and we continue to improve coverage.
We are often asked – “Why is it that the public wireless hotspots at places like Starbucks offer a very simple wireless access, while Wesleyan wireless requires a more elaborate login procedure?” The answer lies in the differences in the services provided. Public hotspots are typically providing only a connection to the Internet; the network is not connected to private file or Web servers that contain sensitive data, so there is much less need to require authentication.
At Wesleyan, however, access to our wireless network potentially grants access to servers with private data, therefore we require authentication and also ensure that machines connecting to our network do not represent a threat to our data.
Connecting to AirWes
Wesleyan’s wireless network is called AirWes. Users will see this listed in their available wireless networks. After selecting this network, users need to open a web browser (Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, etc). Upon opening, the web browser will open to a Cisco Clean Access page. ( Cisco Clean Access is a software which ensures that the computer that is connecting to the wireless network is “security compliant” – that it has the critical updates installed, has a virus protection software installed etc.) At this point, the process differs depending on whether the user is on a Mac or a PC.
Mac users will login directly on the web page. Once logged in, users will be able to browse and connect to their data resources.
The first time a Windows PC connects to the wireless network, it will need to download a client software that will install automatically. After the installation, the program will open up and require the user to login. Once logged in, the user can browse and access network resources normally. Upon subsequent connections, the Cisco Clean Access client will open automatically. Further downloads will only be required only when there is an update to the program.
It is important to note that any Wesleyan student with a Windows PC will have to go through the Cisco Clean Access checking your laptop for security compliance. In addition, faculty and staff members who have access to some of the highly sensitive data are also subjected to this compliance test. In order to determine if your laptop will be subjected to this additional step, please contact your desktop support staff.
If you have not connected to our wireless for a period of time or are negligent in applying all the required updates, there will be considerable delay in connecting to the wireless network. This is because, you will have to apply all required updates before connecting successfully to the Wesleyan network. Please take this into consideration when you plan to use your Windows laptop for presentations.
Visitors must first get a guest account and then follow the steps described in the previous section to be able to login to Wesleyan’s wireless network.
- Visitors attending events should be asked to contact the organizer of the event to get guest access.
- Any member of the Wesleyan community can create guest accounts using the application “WesNetwork Guest Computer Accounts” application in the Tools and Links section of the Electronic Portfolio.
It is extremely important that the visitors who wish to use their own laptops for presentations are asked to arrive early and connect to the Wesleyan wireless. Since most of them will not have Cisco Clean Access software, installing it requires time.
Visitors connecting this way can access the Internet and any Wesleyan network services that are accessible from the Internet. There are many Wesleyan specific services including printing which will not be available to them.
For additional security, Wesleyan also offers WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) encryption on the wireless network. Users who wish can add this level of encryption to their connection in order to protect the data that is traversing the radio waves between the laptop and the access point.
Step by step instructions for configuring WPA security is available at http://www.wesleyan.edu/its/wireless/.
Wired vs. Wireless Connection Speeds
While wireless connectivity is commonplace and more than adequate for most daily activities, wireless connectivity on campus will typically be slower than a wired connection. For the purposes of e-mail and general Web browsing, most users will not notice the difference. However, as speed demands increase due to downloading files, streaming video, or any other bandwidth intensive application, performance will typically be better over a wired connection. There are two main reasons for this:
- Each wireless connection has less bandwidth available to it than a wired connection. Wireless connections at Wesleyan in areas of very good signal strength top out at approximately 50 Mb. As you move into areas of lower signal strength, bandwidth drops off. By comparison, a wired connection to the Wesleyan network will be steady at 100 Mb.
- Wireless access points are shared. As more users connect to an access point, the bandwidth available to individual users is reduced. We are constantly evaluating the usage patterns of our access points and add additional access points in high traffic areas. However, wireless access speeds will, by the nature of the technology, vary as more users connect. Wired connections are not shared, so the 100 Mb bandwidth to the Wesleyan network does not fluctuate with use.
ITS maintains information about the wireless network and best practices regarding security at http://www.wesleyan.edu/its/wireless/.