- Is wireless networking as fast as wired networking?
The short answer is no.
Long answer: Due to the limitations of current signaling technology, there is considerably less bandwidth available to the user on wireless than on the wired network. CWU has installed 802.11g access points which have a theoretical maximum throughput of 54Mb/s. In practice, the maximum is closer to 27Mb/s. Moreover, 802.11g is designed to be compatible with 802.11b devices, which have a maximum bandwidth of 11Mb/s. As soon as an 802.11b device joins the network, performance goes down to a maximum of about 13Mb/s.
This bandwidth is shared by all users associated with an access point. Contrast this number to the dedicated 100Mb/s typical on the wired CWU network. Will you notice the difference? That depends on what you are doing. If you're just surfing the web or checking your email, you probably won't have any complaints, but if you're performing large file transfers, it will definitely be slower.
How do I get connected to the wireless network at CWU?
Answer: All students, faculty, and staff are authorized to connect to this network. Information on what equipment is needed and how to register on the network is available at: http://www.cwu.edu/its-helpdesk/getting-connected
Who decided the priorities for where wireless would be installed?
Answer: Obviously, there are different opinions as to which buildings should be networked first. The University Information Technology Advisory Committee (UITAC), which has representatives from each of the four colleges, ITS, and other groups on campus, set the priorities:
The Library and common areas were chosen so that ITS could begin installation while priorities were being set for other buildings.
The Music Education Facility was done as part of its construction, and Bouillon had wireless installed as part of the initial testing and development by ITS.
Priorities for other areas were based on the number of students who are served in these buildings, the perceived usefulness of wireless in these buildings, difficulty of installation, and the adequacy of the existing wired network.
- What hardware/software do I need to connect to the CWU wireless network?
Answer: There are two issues that affect what you will need. The first is your operating system (OS). Currently, CWU only supports MacOS X 10.3 (or greater), Windows 2000, and Windows XP. If you have MacOS X 10.3 (or greater), you're in luck; it includes native support for the 802.1x wireless standard and you don't need to install any client software, just configure your settings and go. Newer versions of Windows XP include Wireless Zero Configuration, allowing you to configure your wireless device without additional software, but you will need to install the Odyssey client to connect to our wireless network. Windows 2000 requires you to install the proprietary software that came with your wireless device and install the Odyssey client to connect. Instructions are available at: http://www.cwu.edu/its-helpdesk/getting-connected
The next consideration is your hardware. Most new Apple laptops come with an installed Airport Extreme wireless NIC (network interface card) that supports 802.11g. Slightly older ones have Airport cards that support 802.11b. Both will work, although the Extremes will be faster (but see faq #1). Some Apple models may not come with wireless cards and you will have to purchase an Apple compliant card. PC laptops with "Intel Centrino Technology" have built-in wireless capabilities so no card is needed. Other PC laptops require that you purchase a wireless PCMCIA NIC. Popular brands include Linksys, D-Link, and Netgear. We have had some compatibility problems with discount brand cards, so if you find one for an amazingly low price bear in mind that it may not work at CWU.
- Which outdoor areas have wireless coverage?
Answer: There are currently two outdoor areas with wireless coverage:
- Barge Court; the courtyard bounded by Barge, McConnell, Mitchell, and Shaw-Smyser.
- The "campus green"; the grassy area bounded by Science, L&L, Walnut Mall, and including the Japanese Garden.
- What are the technical parameters for CWU's wireless networking strategy?
Answer: Read CWU's Wireless Networking Strategy