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Use of wireless technologies

General principles

In 2002-06, UCIST established general principles for the use of wireless-LAN (WLAN) technologies at UW. IST is responsible for the overall campus administration of these technologies, subject to the advice and recommendations of the Campus Network Advisory Group ( CNAG).

  1. All users must follow the Guidelines for use of wireless spectrum (see below).
  2. All users must be authenticated by a service at least as secure as the one that is currently used by
  3. All WLANs must accept (at least) the UWdir and the Waterloo Nexus userid/password authentication credentials.
  4. All WLANs should be available for use by all members of the UW campus community. Any exceptions will require authorization by the appropriate UCIST representative.
  5. Transmission via existing 802.11 wireless technologies is not secure. Users are responsible for pursuing their own end-to-end encryption (eg: the use of SSL to secure applications such as login, file transfer, e-mail clients, etc).

Private WLANs are expected to be the exception, not the rule. For example, faculty members exploring wireless technologies in their research may need a private WLAN in order to explore bandwidth problems. So that the university administration is kept informed of the research and can help reduce potential interference with the production WLANs, the researcher is requested to direct the matter to the Associate Provost, Information Systems and Technology, who will seek advice from CNAG on an appropriate response.

Guidelines for use of wireless spectrum

UCIST statement

IEEE 802.11 wireless networking utilizes the 2.4 GHz and the 5 GHz radio spectrum. The university therefore requests that use of all other 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz devices be discontinued on university property. We actively monitor use of the airspace for potential interfering devices, and disable any which have not been authorized.

Background information

Potential problems could result from devices using the same radio frequencies as the UW wireless network. Wireless transmissions within these bands conform to the IEEE 802.11 DSSS (Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum) wireless LAN specification; 802.11b and 802.11g use the unlicensed 2.4 GHz Industrial/Scientific/Medical (ISM) band, and 802.11a uses the 5 GHz band. Certain other "wireless" devices exist in the market place that also employ the same bands and can cause interference to users of the wireless network. These devices include, but are not limited to other IEEE 802.11 wireless LAN devices, "Bluetooth" devices, cordless telephones, cameras, and audio speakers.

In order to assure the highest level of service to the users of wireless network, the university requests cooperation from all members of the campus community in minimizing the potential interference from those devices. The university requests that use of all other devices in these two bands be discontinued in university-owned buildings. In cases where the device is being used for a specific teaching or research application, support staff will work with faculty to determine whether there are circumstances under which use of the device may still be accommodated without causing interference to wireless network users.

If you think you have an existing system that may use radios frequencies in these bands for transmission or you are planning to purchase a wireless device and you are uncertain if it employs such radios, please contact your faculty computing unit, the IST Help Desk at x4357, or send mail to They can assist in determining if such devices will cause interference with the wireless network. See the statement on the Use of UW Computing and Network Resources, which mentions issues related to responsible use of shared resources, which includes these radio frequencies.

Maintained by IST Network Services for CNAG in consultation with UCIST.

Approved by UCIST April 4, 2008