Effective: March 31, 2004
Updated: January 6, 2006
Contact: Office of the CIO
1. Responsibility and Enforcement
3. Frequency Use
4. User Provided Equipment
7. Service Spaces
7.1. Public Spaces
7.2. Department Spaces
7.3. Inter-building and Off-campus Spaces
8. Guidelines for Best Practice
8.1. Wireless Service Providers
8.2. Wireless Network Users
Iowa State University's wireless network enables mobile computing and provides network services in situations where wiring is extremely difficult to install, such as historical buildings and large open areas.
The purpose of the wireless policy and related standards and guidelines is to assure students, faculty, and staff access to a reliable, robust, and integrated wireless network and to increase security of the campus wireless network to the extent possible.
This document provides policies, standards, and guidelines for best practice as they relate to providing and using Iowa State University's wireless network. Specifically, the policy identifies user and service provider responsibilities, lists the industry wireless standards supported on campus, addresses frequency issues, stresses the importance of security, and provides guidelines and best practices to improve security.
Information Technology Services (ITS) is solely responsible for implementation of wireless technology, enforcing campus network standards, and has the authority to resolve frequency interference issues. All users connecting to the campus network will gain access through their Net-ID which determines the identity of and authenticates the user.
Iowa State University has adopted the following approved IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.) standard protocols for wireless networking:
The 2.4 GHz radio frequency used by 802.11b and 802.11g is an unlicensed shared spectrum band. The 5 GHz radio frequency is another unlicensed shared spectrum which is used by 802.11a access points. In addition, there are only three non-overlapping channels within the 802.11b and 802.11g specifications. Consequently, access points can interfere with each other and other communications devices or appliances if not administered or deployed properly. Microwave ovens and cordless telephones are prominent examples. ITS Networks and Communications will manage the shared use of unlicensed radio frequencies for the campus community and has campus authority to resolve interference issues.
Users are responsible for purchasing wireless clients or wireless Ethernet cards for devices connected to the campus wireless network. Specifications for wireless Ethernet cards are included as part of the Desktop Computers Standards. Tech Cyte is the recommended resource for obtaining 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11a Ethernet cards.
Wireless networks are not as secure as wired networks. Security for wireless networks is evolving. ITS is responsible for establishing security policies for wireless communications based on current best practices. All wireless network installations must comply with established security policies including campus-wide IP (Internet Protocol) addressing and DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) services.
ITS continually tests new and emerging wireless technologies. Departments and colleges may test new technologies, but may not implement technologies that compete or interfere with the campus wireless network. Departments must notify ITS of any new technology trials.
ITS Networks and Communications is responsible for providing and upgrading wireless service in public spaces for a robust, seamless, and integrated wireless network.
Departments have two options for extending wireless service to locally controlled areas.
ITS Wireless Service
Wireless service (including access points, technical support, software and hardware upgrades) is available from ITS for extending wireless networking beyond the public areas into departmental spaces. The ITS Networks and Communications division will provide engineering for optimal placement of access points and identify other devices operating in the same frequency range. They will also make a determination of the appropriate source of power, i.e. AC power at the device or power over communication lines from the Communications closet. ITS wireless service includes software and hardware maintenance and technology upgrades.
Self-supported Wireless Services
Departments can provide access points within buildings in locally controlled areas. Any access point departmentally purchased and/or connected to the campus network must meet the campus wireless standards outlined in this policy. (ITS works with the University Book Store and Computer Sales to identify hardware and software that is compatible with the campus network.) Departmentally owned access points must be maintained and upgraded concurrent with university wireless policies and standards at departmental cost.
ITS is solely responsible for providing wireless networking between campus buildings and to off-campus locations. Departments are not permitted to provide inter-building or wide-area wireless services.
Wireless networks inherently have greater risks than wired networks because wireless transmissions occur on unlicensed radio frequencies. Consequently, it is difficult to know who or what devices are connected and listening. Security of wireless networking in the open culture of a university network requires the best efforts of both the wireless service provider(s) and wireless users. Following these best practices will not guarantee security but may reduce the risks.