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Wireless: F.A.Q.

Wireless Networks at UMass Amherst:

My computer lists a lot of wireless networks in my area. Which one do I pick?

UMass Amherst IT administers and supports two wireless networks on the campus wireless network: eduroam and UMASS. Other networks are not supported by us and are considered interfering networks because they may pose security risks and slow down speed of the network.

What is the difference between the eduroam and UMASS SSIDs?

The main difference is security. eduroam uses 802.1x authentication and encryption, which adds a layer of security to your connection. In addition, you can configure your eduroam connection to log-in automatically every time you start your computer.

UMASS is the unencrypted, less secure, way to connect to the wireless network. To connect, you must log in through a Web browser with your IT Account NetID and password. We will slowly be restricting the use of the UMASS SSID.

 


 

Network Requirements:

What do I need in order to connect?

To connect to the UMass Amherst wireless network, you will need:

  • A computer with a WiFi-certified, dual-band adapter
    While many types of wireless adapters will connect successfully to our wireless network, we have found that dual-band adapters work best. If your computer doesn't have dual-band adapter, we recommend you purchase a dual-band, WiFi-certified USB adapter that is 802.11n-compatible. If you are purchasing a new laptop, we recommend buying one with a 3x3 internal adapter, such as the Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300.
  • Your IT Account NetID and password
    If you forgot your password, you can reset it in SPIRE. Go to www.spire.umass.edu. Then, under IT Accounts, click Password Help.

Will my older 802.11b card work on the wireless network?

Yes. You can connect to the wireless network with a WiFi-Certified 802.11b adapter, but know that the lower rates of 1MB and 2MB are disabled on the campus wireless network. If you have an 802.11b only adapter, it is strongly recommended that you upgrade to 802.11b/g at a minimum or the highly preferred dual band 802.11a/b/g/n adapter.

How do I know if my wireless device has a WiFi-certified adapter?

Check the WiFi Alliance's lists of certified devices and adapters or refer to your device's documentation or specifications.

 


 

Wireless for Guests:

I am running an event and will need wireless access for my guests. What do I do?

UMass Amherst faculty and staff can request a group wireless account for their event by e-mailing the name, date, and sponsor for the event to groupwirelessrequest@it.umass.edu. Only a UMass Amherst faculty or staff member can sponsor a group wireless account. Group wireless accounts can last for 24 hours, 3 days, or 7 days.

We need three business days to process the request properly.

I have a friend visiting UMass Amherst, can I get them on the wireless network?

All students, faculty, and staff can create guest accounts for individual guests. You can have three guest accounts at any one time, and each account can last for up to 72 hours.

To make a guest account, log in to SPIRE, then go to Main Menu -> IT Accounts -> Manage Guest Accounts. Please keep in mind that you are responsible for anything your guest does on the wireless network, including being responsible for any copyright complaints that come in for them.

See our Guest Wireless Accounts page for more information.

 


 

Wireless Network Coverage:

Where can I use the wireless network?

To find a wireless coverage area near you, view our wireless coverage areas page (which includes a wireless coverage map). Note: Both eduroam and UMASS are available wherever there is coverage.

Is there wireless coverage in administrative or research buildings?

We are currently working to provide wireless coverage throughout all academic and administrative buildings on campus. For more information, see our Wireless Coverage Expansion Project page.

Is wireless available in residence halls?

As of fall 2011, all residence halls at UMass Amherst have wireless Internet access. During the summer of 2011, we installed wireless and disabled wired Ethernet in the Southwest residential area. We installed wireless in residential areas on the East side of campus — Northeast, Sylvan, Orchard Hill, and Central -- during the summer of 2010.  Wireless in Residence Halls Installation Project

Can I request wireless coverage in my building?

Contact the IT Help Center (413-545-9400, M-F, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.) to request that we install wireless in your building.

 


 

Network Connectivity Issues and Troubleshooting:

My wireless connection is sometimes good, but some other times, it is very slow. What can I do?

A faulty or slow wireless connection in a full coverage area is not normal, but can occur in certain circumstances. To learn what you can do, read Improving Your Wireless Connection: Tips & Tricks.

I am having trouble connecting to eduroam. What can I do?

Try running the JoinNow setup wizard, our setup wizard, again. We periodically update JoinNow to stay current with the latest improvements and security updates from our software vendor; you may have also installed a new operating system on your computer. In most cases, running JoinNow again should be your first troubleshooting step. For details, see our Wireless Network Access page.

Can I install my own wireless access point?

No. In accordance with our Wireless Airspace Policy, interfering wireless access points, i.e., access points not managed by UMass Amherst IT, will be disabled. These access points pose serious security risks and slow down the entire network.

Can I use both a wireless and an Ethernet connection at the same time?

No. Also known as Network Bridging, opening multiple connections to the campus network may interfere with network stability and your wireless reception. If your computer has both wired and wireless capability, make sure it is not configured for network bridging (or Internet Connection Sharing). Remember that you can use only one connection at a time. Ethernet jacks on campus are set up to automatically shut off once they detect network bridging. Learn how to disable multiple network connections and turn off network bridging.

Do I need to know what channel I am on?

No. Your wireless card will automatically detect the channels available in your area, and select the channel that provides the best wireless reception. Note: You cannot manually select or change wireless channels when using the campus wireless network.

I'm connected to the network, but my software says I don't have an Internet connection. Why?

You need to log in to the campus wireless network through a Web browser (UMASS) or have set up your eduroam connection before you can access the Internet or use non-browser software, including email clients (e.g., Thunderbird or Apple Mail) and SFTP programs (e.g., WinSCP).
 

UPDATE: Starting in June 2018, a new setup wizard replaced XpressConnect, making it even easier to connect to the eduroam wireless network. For more information, head to the Wireless Network Access page.