Content Moved | Campus Wi Fi Upgrade Update March 2013 | University of Waterloo

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Campus WiFi

The University offers full 2.4GHz/5GHz a/g/n Wi-Fi service in all University buildings[1], including student residences.

Recommended WiFi adapters

To take full advantage of the campus WiFi environment, a dual band 2.4GHz/5GHz WiFi adapter is recommended. This is because the 2.4GHz b/g/n band only has 3 useable channels, and suffers from interference from other equipment using the same frequency (e.g. microwave ovens, cordless phones, Bluetooth). 2.4GHz b/g/n is suitable in a home environment where there are only a few users, but in a classroom with 120 people, and with only 3 channels available (no matter how many Access Points (APs) are installed) performance will be limited. The 5GHz a/n band, in contrast, has 23 channels available.


When buying a laptop, make sure it supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. This is usually shown as a/b/g/n or a/b/g/n/ac; if it says b/g/n (without ‘a’), it is probably not dual band. All Macs made in the last 3 years are dual band. Laptops bought through UW’s agreement with Dell are dual band. All laptops which support 802.11ac are dual band. Many of the PC laptop models at campustech are dual band. Most PC laptops available at stores off campus or online are not dual band. If you aren’t sure you will need to look up the laptop and WiFi adapter model online to confirm.

AP locations and coverage

Designing the campus WiFi environment involves the use of site planning software with building floor plans loaded in and wall/door attenuation properly set, in order to position APs optimally. After APs are installed, a site survey is conducted to ensure the coverage matches the expected coverage. Final adjustments in AP locations and power levels are made as needed. As part of ongoing quality assurance, IST conducts regular on site spot tests (particularly in high load areas), conducts random user surveys, and responds to issues reported by users. The largest factors affecting service are congestion on the 2.4GHz band, and interference from WiFi routers and APs installed in private offices (which the industry calls rogue APs).

Have you setup your own router or AP?

Anyone who has installed a WiFi router or AP in their office or residence room should disconnect this device and use the campus provided service. If the campus service does not meet your needs, please follow the Wireless Access Point (AP) approval process. Unauthorized private APs may be disconnected without warning to ensure a dependable service is available to the campus community. For additional information, please see the university's wireless guidelines.

Guidelines on WiFi usage

Finally, a reminder that use of the campus WiFi service is subject to the Guidelines on Use of Waterloo Computing and Network Resources. In coming months, we’re planning to add a ‘Review and Accept’ button to the campus WiFi service, which includes a link to the above guidelines, and will be displayed in your web browser once per term per device.

Additional information and obtaining assistance

For additional information, see Eduroam wireless network

If you experience difficulty with WiFi on campus, please either visit a Faculty service desk, or the CHIP, or submit an online incident report