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Clapp tower from Miles Smith

Wireless@MHC

Current Wireless zones:

All residence halls

As of the fall of 2008, all residence halls are wireless.

Library

Most of the Library is currently setup for wireless. However there are a few "dead spots". Approximately 90% of the carrels do have wireless access. For a graphical overview of the areas covered, click on Wireless Coverage Maps below.

Library Coverage Maps

Library Reading Room

Library Atrium / Court yard

Library Miles Smith (most of it)

Library Level 6 (most of it)

Library Stacks (most of it Levels 1 - 7)

Dwight

Dwight 2nd floor (allows access in the Dwight Labs)

Dwight 101

Dwight M.U.S.E.

Willits

Willits Main Dinning room and Living room

Willits Rooms

Kendade

Most public areas

Facilities Management

Most of the office area

Newhall

Almost all of it

Ciruti Center

Language Learning Lounge

Skinner

A good portion of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors

Cultural Houses

ACE

Betty Shabazz

Note: Little to no coverage in the large room.

Eliana Ortega

Zowie Banteah

Marks House

Community Houses

The Day Student Organization Lounge (Part of Blanchards Wireless Zone)

The Frances Perkins House

Clapp

Most of Clapp is wireless.

Merrill House

Most if not all of Merrill House is wireless.

Observatory

Most of the Observatory is wireless.

Planned Wireless zones:

Ciruti

All areas, Fall 2008

Pratt

Pratt Library

Wireless SSID (network name)

Currently in academic/administrative areas we are using:

MHC   (This SSID will be phased out in most places in 2012)

MHC-Encrypt   (This SSID will be phased out in 2012)

Uses WPA/PSK TKIP (WPA Personal)

Passphrase: marylyon

Throughout campus we are using:

LyonNet   (This SSID will be phased out in 2012)

LyonNet-Encrypt

Uses WPA/PSK TKIP (WPA Personal)

Passphrase: marylyon

MHC-Guest

This SSID is for campus visitors.

(Note: SSID entries are case sensitive)

For instructions on setting up your computer to use WPA (personal) click the following link:

Setting up your Wireless connection

We also have a guest user SSID: MHC Guest. This will allow for limited access to services.

Encryption

When selecting an Encryption method to use with a wireless connection consider the following:
  • Do not use basic WEP, it is insecure. Basic WEP Encryption has been proven to be "crackable". It will take a hacker only a few minutes to decode a WEP encrypted wireless session, and start to watch the wireless network traffic.
  • If at all possible, do not use an open, unencrypted connection. If your connection is not encrypted, most of what your computer is transmitting (over the air) is in plain text. That means that someone with a wireless "sniffer" (a device to grab the data packets out of the air) can watch what you are doing. This becomes important when you are entering your username and password or bank account information on a wireless connection.
  • Secure protocols, such as HTTPS for the web, IMAPs for email, ssh (putty), and sftp do their own encryption before the data leave your computer. (Most banking and online purchasing use HTTPS, as do the College web applications that involve logins, such as Webmail/Webshell, ISIS, etc.)
  • Consider using secure protocols on top of the built in encryption, such as SSH and SSL. It doesn't hurt to be extra safe.

Registering Your Wireless Network card

You will need to register your wireless network card. This is done by connecting to an Access Point and attempting to connect to a web page outside of Mount Holyoke. You will be presented with a network registration web page to register your wireless network card.

Other Notes:

Pros and cons of wireless

The major advantage to wireless is obvious. You can easily take your laptop computer anywhere and maintain network connection without having to find a wired data port.

This single advantage greatly outweighs the list of disadvantages, but it is important to keep those disadvantages in mind when using any wireless system.

  • Speed
    A wireless connection is not as fast as a wired connection. In most cases, this difference is not that important, but if you are downloading large amounts of material, it is better to have a wired connection.

  • Interference
    Wireless signals can be degraded because of interference from a number of sources of other radio waves. These include:
    • Other access points not part of the system
    • Microwave ovens
    • 2.5 Gigahertz cordless phones (a very serious source of interference)

  • Absorption and Blockage
    Some materials block wireless signals more than others. Water can absorb the signal, so being surrounded by people can cause some degradation of signal.

    The signals may bounce off some materials like metal used in plumbing, air ducts, bathroom fixtures, and elevators. This can make for poor signal strength in kitchen or bathroom areas.

  • Number of users
    Unlike a wired connection where you have a dedicated connection to the network electronics, in wireless you are sharing a connection to an access point with others. More users on an access point can reduce performance.

    The Aruba system in the dorms allows for a denser distribution of access points so that the chance of overloading any one access point can be minimized.

  • Distance from an access point
    As you get farther away from an access point, the signal strength becomes less and the system throttles the speed down so that data can get through on the lower strength signal. A weak connection from one computer can actually affect other users.

Personal access points

We have not yet set any policies on personal access points. Other institutions have banned individuals from bringing their own personal access points because they interfere with those provided by the institution. We have not taken this step... yet. You do not need to bring a wireless AP to your dorm because by the fall of 2008 all dorms will be 100% wireless.

In the meantime, however, if you have your own access point, here are some guidelines to avoid problems:

  • Set the channel to Channel 1.
  • Do not use MHC as the SSID since you would then be masquerading as College equipment.
  • Set up encryption on your access point to prevent others from using it.

    This is especially important to avoid any risk of lawsuit. If you allow another computer to use your access point and if that other computer engages in copyright violations by sharing music or videos, it may be your connection that is recorded as the copyright infringer and you will be the one that organizations like the RIAA or MPAA will go after.

  • If you have a device that allows multiple wired computers and if that device has wireless, turn off the wireless and only use it for your wired connections.
  • If you are using an Access Point that is also a home router, be careful how you connect it to the network. The port labeled WAN will connect to the data port in your room while the LAN connections are designed for internal (room) computers. Plugging it in backwards will cause your port to be shut off.

2.4 Gigahertz cordless phones

These phones can completely stop a wireless connection. If you have such a phone, using it near your wireless laptop is likely to stop your wireless connection completely.

Using this kind of phone is also likely to interfere with your neighbors' wireless connections.

If you have such a phone, talk to your neighbors (including the floors above and below you) to find out if your phone is interfering with their network connections.

Consider a 900 MHz phone instead of 2.4 GHz one (a 900Mhz phone will not interfere with a wireless connection).

We will need to gain more experience with this to determine if these kinds of cordless phones can be allowed in areas with wireless network coverage.

Microwave Ovens

Microwave ovens work on the same frequencies that some wireless networks run on. This can cause the wireless signal to vanish for the time period the Microwave oven is in use.



Students wanting to use the wireless network are required to run a second ip-request to register their wireless cards.


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To reach all of us
network @ mtholyoke.edu


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To contact the College, call 413-538-2000.
This page maintained by the Department of Networking. Last modified on August 1, 2008.