Wireless guidelines

General principles

In 2002-06, the University Committee on Information Systems & Technology (UCIST) established general principles for the use of wireless-LAN (WLAN) technologies at the University of Waterloo. In December of 2012 these principles and procedures were updated.

Information Systems & Technology (IST) is responsible for the overall campus administration of these technologies, subject to the advice and recommendations of the Campus Network Services Committee (CNSC).

  1. All user access to University of Waterloo networks, both wired and wireless, must be controlled and in accordance with Guidelines on Use of Waterloo Computing and Network Resources and the Guideline for use of Wireless Spectrum below.
  2. Only Waterloo sanctioned SSIDs may be used. Any exceptions or additions must follow the approval process.
  3. The University of Waterloo wireless network (SSID) 'uw-unsecured' does not provide encryption 'over the air' and should be considered insecure. Users are responsible for providing their own end-to-end encryption. This network may be decommissioned out at a later time.
  4. The University of Waterloo wireless network (SSID) 'eduroam' is encrypted 'over the air' and should be the preferred network. Users are responsible for providing their own end-to-end encryption.
  5. Broadcasting the SSID 'eduroam' or 'uw-unsecured' is strictly prohibited.

Private WLANs are expected to be the exception, not the rule. Wherever possible, existing infrastructure must be used to meet the needs of the intended use.

If these needs cannot be met by the current infrastructure and, at the discretion of IST, modifications to this infrastructure is not feasible then; approval for the use of a separate access point must be obtained prior to any installation or activation of such device.

Guideline 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 are now actively monitoring 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 Waterloo wireless network. Wireless transmissions within these bands conform to the IEEE 802.11 wireless LAN specification; 802.11b/g/n use the unlicensed 2.4 GHz while 802.11a/n 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 x34357, send mail to helpdesk@uwaterloo.ca, or follow the Wireless Access Point Approval Process. They can assist in determining if such devices will cause interference with the wireless network. See the statement on the Use of Waterloo Computing and Network Resources, which mentions issues, related to responsible use of shared resources, which includes these radio frequencies.