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UMass Amherst IT Policy: Wireless Airspace

University of Massachusetts Amherst
August 15, 2003

The University of Massachusetts Amherst has implemented wireless networking services in several areas of the University campus to promote the convenience of mobile network connectivity. This service allows members of the University community to access the campus-wide network from mobile or portable computers (and select personal digital assistants) where coverage is available. Accidental or intentional disruption of a wireless network will deprive others of access to important University resources.

To provide this service, the radio frequency airspace of the University serves as the transport medium for this technology. Wireless networks operate on the campus shared and finite airspace spectrum.

[Current wireless Ethernet is based upon products that use the Federal Communications Commission radio frequency bands of 2.4 GHz and 5GHz. Wireless transmissions within these bands conform to the IEEE 802.11b DSSS (Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum) and IEEE 802.11a and IEEE 802.11g wireless LAN specifications. Other wireless products also exist in the marketplace that use these same 2.4 GHz and 5GHz frequency bands but do not conform to these standards. Such products can cause interference to wireless service and can prevent University users from obtaining or maintaining network connectivity. These devices include, but are not limited to, other IEEE wireless LAN devices, bluetooth products, cordless telephones, wireless video cameras, and wireless audio speakers. Certain wireless LAN products are also more susceptible to unauthorized access due to encryption and security flaws.]

Therefore, UMass Amherst Information Technologies (UMass Amherst IT) will regulate and manage this airspace to ensure its fair and efficient allocation and to prevent collision, interference, unauthorized intrusion and failure. In addition, central management will facilitate the adoption of new features. Persons using wireless devices to connect to the University network must be aware of this, and comply with the policies outlined herein.

UMass Amherst IT will approach the shared use of the wireless radio frequencies in the same way that it manages the shared use of the wired network. All provisions of the University policies regarding computing, including the UMass Amherst IT Acceptable Use Policy, apply equally to both wired and wireless networking. Specific issues pertaining to wireless network devices are outlined below:

  • Only access points provided and installed by UMass Amherst IT or approved by UMass Amherst IT are permitted on the University network or the campus. A consultation with UMass Amherst IT is available to assist with questions, and UMass Amherst IT can provide access points to departments for non-public spaces on a fee for service basis. Contact John Doyle, Umass Amherst IT, john.doyle@umass.edu for specific information and pricing.
  • All access points will be installed and configured in such a way as to comply with all security features of the wireless network, including restrictions to provide connections only to those users who are entitled to access as members of the University community.
  • The University reserves the right to remove or disconnect any access point not installed and configured by UMass Amherst IT personnel or specifically covered by prior written agreement and/or arrangement with UMass Amherst IT. In cases where the device is being used for specific teaching or research applications, UMass Amherst IT will work with faculty to determine how the wireless devices may be used while maintaining required security and without causing interference.
  • Other devices such as portable phones, and wireless devices using "Bluetooth" (a competing wireless technology), that broadcast and receive information on the same frequency as wireless Ethernet devices may not be allowed on the network, due to the possibility of interference. If reports of disruptions caused by such devices occur, the circumstances will be investigated and could result in removal of the device, with the determination to be made by UMass Amherst IT.
  • Only users affiliated with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst are authorized to use wireless networking on campus. To help protect these affiliated users from unauthorized access to their computer resources, UMass Amherst IT may implement data encryption and authentication security measures that must be followed by all users. These measures require the use of specific wireless LAN product types and are designed to meet emerging wireless encryption and security standards.