A while back, the Office of Information Systems conducted a survey designed to gauge overall user satisfaction with the university’s wireless and network infrastructure. The results and feedback we got gave us a better understanding of what immediate changes needed to be made and how to design the system moving forward.
The results of the survey led to the following improvements, which are already in place:
- Improved wireless in the Witherspoon classroom areas
- Improved wireless in the McEver lecture pits
- In-room wireless design for residence halls with M-Street, Nutt, and University Commons being the first to be upgraded
- Removal of the SafeConnect policy key that previously was required to install on laptops and desktops
- Additional outdoor wireless added around BazTech for outdoor dining
Other areas where students asked for improvements included:
- Wireless that uses security so that their devices don’t show an “open” wireless network
- Improve stability to prevent issues like random momentary disconnects
- Reduce the number of networks to connect to (each residence hall had a unique wireless name)
Starting with the Fall 2021 semester, the Office of Information Systems will make the following changes to continue implementing some of the survey requests.
Several networks will now use 802.1x for authentication. 802.1x differs from the previous authentication method in that it prompts for credentials as part of the connection process instead of redirecting to a login page after connecting. Therefore, the network will show as secured and should cut down on instances where a device showed it was connected but didn’t have network access due to an expired login. Devices compatible with 802.1x authentication include most modern devices such as:
- Android Mobile
- Apple Mobile
- Mac OS
For Academic, Recreational, and Greenspace Areas
ATU-WifiHelp: This wifi network will only provide access to a webpage that contains information on how to connect to the other available wireless networks. Depending on device type, when connecting to this wireless, a user’s device may be redirected to this page automatically or pop up a prompt which the user may have to click.
ATU-Wireless: This wifi network will provide network and Internet access for students, faculty, and staff and will utilize 802.1x authentication. It will continue to broadcast both on legacy 2.4ghz wireless and the newer 5ghz wireless for now.
Tech-Guest: This wifi network is intended for guests to campus who do not have an ATU login and, therefore, cannot use ATU-Wireless. Tech-Guest has a more limited range of connectivity and requires the user to read and acknowledge an Acceptable Use Policy every 3 hours. It will be broadcast on 2.4ghz only.
For Residence Hall Areas
Based on the survey results, we’ve redesigned the Residence Hall wireless networks with the following in mind:
- Have a secured wireless network
- Split 2.4ghz and 5ghz networks so that each user has a choice about which to connect to and devices don’t keep trying to switch back and forth between wireless types
- Have the same networks broadcasting in each residence hall to minimize having to set up new networks if moving to a new residence building or visiting friends
ATU-ResNetHelp: This wifi network will only provide access to a webpage that contains information on how to connect to the other available wireless and wired networks. Depending on device type, when connecting to this wireless, a user’s device may be redirected to this page automatically or pop up a prompt which the user may have to click.
ATU-ResNet and ATU-ResNet-5g: These wifi networks will provide network and Internet access and will utilize 802.1x authentication. They are split into a legacy 2.4ghz-only wireless (ATU-ResNet) and a newer 5ghz-only wireless (ATU-Resnet-5g). This will allow students to connect to whichever signal is better for them based on their device and signal level and minimize instances where devices can constantly shift between 2.4ghz and 5ghz, resulting in frequent disconnects.
ATU-HomeDevices and ATU-HomeDevices-5g: These wifi networks are specifically for devices that don’t support 802.1x authentication (game consoles, TVs, home automation, etc.) and will provide network and Internet access. To utilize these networks, the user will have to register the device’s MAC address using the Self-Service Device Enrollment portal before connecting. Again, the networks have been split to provide users with a choice on using the legacy 2.4ghz (ATU-HomeDevices) or the newer 5ghz (ATU-HomeDevices-5g) based on their devices and available signal level.
Wired connections are still available in most residence halls and will require device registration utilizing the device’s wired MAC address on the Self Service Device Enrollment portal before connecting.
We plan on having several other announcements about wireless improvements later this semester.