ITS Wireless Networking Policy Statement

As Information Technology Services (ITS) has been mandated by the University to manage the campus network “from the wall-plate to the Internet”, in order to ensure reliability, integrity and interoperability, it is also the responsibility of ITS to ensure the integrity and appropriate use of the campus “radio space” in terms of wireless networking. Even more so than with traditional wired networking technology, 802.11 wireless networking (WiFi) has a multitude of issues that can “step on” or conflict significantly with campus wireless services. Channel allocations, device placement, access point configuration all have the potential to disrupt the critical campus wireless networking service. Please note that this policy applies to both the Academic and Health Affairs divisions of campus.

Compliance with the policies and guidelines below will reduce service problems for everyone and provide a more robust campus system. Therefore, just as is the case with the campus wired network infrastructure, schools and departments at UNC-Chapel Hill who fail to fully coordinate with ITS can cause clearly avoidable problems. In order to minimize such problems, systems failing to comply with the guidelines listed below will be identified, located, and disconnected until the problems are resolved.

The policy and process, then, is as follows:

1. Any school or department that wishes to pursue having 802.11 wireless networking within their building or for their department must contact the ITS Response Center to open a Remedy ticket to arrange for an appropriate site survey by ITS to assess the requirement for wireless connectivity, determine how many access points/radios are needed and where the optimum location for placement of these radios would be. You may contact the IT Response Center in one of two ways:

2. Submit a request via the web at http://help.unc.edu/help/olhr/ or call 962-HELP.

3. Only access points purchased from and managed by ITS are permitted to be used on campus. If any 802.11 (WiFi) device that functions as a wireless access point are identified within campus-owned or leased property, they will be disconnected from its power source and from the network.

4. If the purpose of the wireless connectivity is for departmental administrative/faculty/staff connectivity, the department is responsible for all costs at this time associated with the equipment and any wiring that might be required; however, ITS will provide the configuration, maintenance and management of the access point(s) at no charge to the department. In terms of the specific details of the costs of the access points and any cable installation that would be required, that information can be provided at the time of the site survey.

5.  Examples of wireless interference. Active sources that cause wireless interference include: cordless phones, gaming systems, video devices, a garage door opener, Bluetooth devices and improperly shielded microwave ovens.  Since these devices all operate in the 2.4 GHz (predominantly) or 5 GHz (sometimes, but not as often), they can disrupt wireless connectivity. Other devices, such as wireless keyboards and mice, also use the 2.4 GHz frequency.  Surprisingly certain energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs can leak radio frequency (RF) interference that interrupts wireless signals.

Passive sources of wireless interference are materials like wood, plaster and glass; all allow the signal to pass through easily. Bricks and concrete are more difficult, while concrete and metal can totally kill a signal.

6. Turning off wireless access in campus classrooms is not an option.

Failure to follow these aforementioned policies and procedures in terms of wireless networking will result in any non-compliant devices being completely disconnected from electrical power and from the network until there is compliance.

It is important to keep in mind the fact that wireless technology is and will for the foreseeable future be a shared bandwidth technology (like old shared Ethernet hubs). As such, services that rely on appropriately configured switched electronics, like IP Multicast, will not effectively work in a wireless environment. If there are any specific questions not addressed above, please submit a Remedy ticket or contact the ITS Response Center at 962-HELP.