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Wireless in Residence Halls: Frequently Asked Questions

eduroam replaced the UMASS-SECURE1X for encrypted wireless connectivity on August 5, 2014.

For more information about the wireless network, including detailed instructions on how to connect, see our Wireless Network Access documentation.

Which residence halls are 'wireless only'?

As of fall 2011, all residence halls and Lincoln Apartments are 'wireless-only'. Wired (Ethernet) Internet access is not available in these buildings. A Wired Ethernet connection is only available in North Village family housing.

What do I need to connect?

To connect to the UMass Amherst wireless network, you'll 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 OIT Accounts, click Password Help.

How can I find out if my computer has a wireless adapter?

Note: Laptops typically come with built-in wireless adapters.

  • Windows 8: Go to Charms (Upper right corner) > Settings > Network Connections. If you see a wireless 
  • Windows 7: Go to Start > Control Panel > Network Connections > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center. If you see a Manage Wireless Networks link, the computer has a built-in wireless adapter.
  • Mac OS X: Go to Apple > System Preferences > Network. If AirPort (even disabled), appears under your network options (at left) the computer has a built-in wireless adapter.

If you are still not sure whether or not your computer has a wireless adapter, please contact the IT Help Center.

My computer is not accepting my NetID and/or password for eduroam. What's wrong?

Although your computer may detect the eduroam network in your vicinity, if you haven't configured your connection using our setup wizard (JoinNow), your computer's attempts to connect to the network may fail. Your computer may even report that it has successfully connected to eduroam, but you may then find that you don't have actual Internet access or that it is severely limited.

Can I request that my wired Ethernet jack be activated?

We will not activate Ethernet jacks in residence halls with wireless connectivity. Disabling Ethernet jacks has allowed us to focus resources on one type of network.

Can I connect my gaming console to the wireless network?

As in the past, UMass Amherst IT does not officially support connecting video game consoles to the UMass Amherst network.

None of the popular wireless-enabled consoles can connect to the secure wireless network, eduroam. These consoles do not meet acceptable security standards used on many modern networks.

Some types of wireless-enabled consoles (e.g., PlayStation 3, Wii, etc.) may be able to connect to the UMASS network and log in using their built-in Web browsers.

Can I connect more than one device simultaneously?

Yes. You can use your IT Account NetID to connect up to 10 devices to the eduroam SSID and an unlimited number of devices to the UMASS SSID.

If you try to connect an 11th device to eduroam, you may receive an error telling you that you can't log in. Disconnect one or more of your other devices and try again. You should then be able to successfully connect the new device.

Can my friends and family members connect to wireless when they visit me?

Visitors and family members that are not part of the University community will not be able to connect to the wireless network at your residence hall. At this time, students cannot create wireless guest accounts for family or friends visiting UMass Amherst. Members of the University community can use the wireless connection in residential areas in the same way that they use the wireless network in other areas of the campus.

Note: Sharing your NetID and password violates the Acceptable Use Policy. If you share this information with others, you will be held accountable for their activities on the network.

Why did you install wireless in residence halls and deactivate wired jacks?

We installed wireless in residence halls in response to requests from students made directly to UMass Amherst IT as well as to the offices of the Chancellor, Student Affairs, and Campus Life. Wireless is more convenient and it enables you to connect multiple devices easily. You will have added flexibility in your room and throughout your residence hall, similar to what you may have at home or elsewhere on campus where there is wireless coverage.

The Ethernet cabling in residence halls was aging and only supported limited network speeds. Rather than engaging in a multi-million dollar project to re-wire these buildings, we expanded the campus wireless network. The wireless network can meet students’ current needs and accommodate the growing number of wireless devices students bring to campus. In conjunction with future infrastructure upgrades, the wireless network will support the next generation of wireless-enabled devices and bandwidth-hungry applications.

How does wireless network access compare to the wired network?

  • Reliability: Your device will be able to choose from several access points from any given location in the residential halls. If an access point fails, the wireless system will automatically identify the failure and increase the power of nearby access points to fill the coverage gap until the defective hardware is replaced. Multiple adjacent access points would need to fail at the same time for wireless connectivity to be significantly impacted. A wired connection may appear more reliable, but it means you can only connect one device to a single network jack. If this jack is disconnected or needs repair, you lose network access entirely.
  • Speed: For on-campus connections (e.g. connecting to on-campus resources), the wired campus network was configured for speeds of up to 10 Mbps (megabits per second). Actual on-campus wired networking speeds were typically around 4-6 Mbps. With the campus wireless network, connection speeds vary between 2 and 54 Mbps. Actual on-campus wireless speeds will vary based on a number of factors, including the type of device or wireless adapter you're using, your distance from an access point, the amount of interference at your location, and overall building bandwidth usage. Access to off-campus Web sites and resources (e.g., Google, Netflix, etc.) should be the same for wired and wireless connections. If your device has a dual-band adapter, it will be able to better cope with interference, resulting in a faster connection.
  • Security: There are two wireless networks available on campus. The UMASS wireless network (SSID UMASS) is an “open” network and offers no inherent encryption beyond the login page. On the other hand, eduroam uses the strongest 802.1x security and encryption mechanisms available to create a secure connection between your computer and the campus network. We recommend that you always connect to eduroam. Use our fast and easy-to-use setup wizard, JoinNow, to set up your connection to eduroam.
  • Environmental Impact: The wireless network requires approximately 75% less materials than the wired network. Due to lower electrical power requirements, installing wireless will also result in a projected savings of between 20 and 40 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per month compared to an upgraded wired network.

Will wired connections still be available in the North Residential Area?

For now, the North Residential Area will have both wired and wireless connectivity. We will decommission the wired jacks in these buildings after we install the same dual-band, 802.11n-capable, access points installed in other residence halls.

UPDATE: Starting in June 2018, a new setup wizard replaced XpressConnect, making it even easier to connect to the eduroam wireless network.