UWIN Wireless FAQs - Version 2.1
How do I configure my wireless connection on the UWIN?
To configure your wireless connection, please click here.
What is wireless networking?
Wireless networking allows users of mobile devices such as
laptop computers and personal digital assistants (PDA's) to access a computer
network (such as the UL Lafayette campus network or the Internet) without the
need for a physical (that is, a hardwired) connection.
What about technical support?
Support is available from the University Computing Support
Services (UCS/UCSS) Help Desk. They are located in Stephens Hall Room 201 and
their telephone number is 337-482-5516 (x 25516). If your computer does not
function with UWIN please be aware that Help Desk staff can not work on your
computer, but are available to lead you through the testing and repair operation.
Operation and maintenance of UWIN is handled by Information
Networks (IN). To report outages contact the Information Networks Solutions
Desk at 337-482-0088 (dial TT# from a campus phone). Departments that want information
on deploying UWIN in their area should contact Information Networks at 337-482-6418
How does wireless networking work?
Wireless networking works very similar to a cordless telephone,
where the phone base broadcasts a signal to the handset and then sends the handset's
responses through the telephone cord plugged into a wall jack. In wireless networking,
a device called an Access Point (AP), which is directly hardwired to a computer
network itself, broadcasts a signal to the surrounding area. Any device that
is equipped with a wireless networking card can receive that signal and communicate
with the AP, and through the AP's wired connection, with the rest of the network.
How fast is a wireless connection?
UWIN wireless provides a network connection comparable in speed to
an older wired Ethernet network. UL Lafayette's wireless network provides
a shared 11 Mbps connection (802.11b, with the area served called a
hotspot) or 54 Mbps connection (802.11g). Because the connection is
shared, the speed of your connection will drop as more users in your area
connect. It can be as low as your connection speed divided by the current
number of users.
Are there drawbacks to wireless communications?
Yes, unfortunately! Although this technology offers a great
deal of convenience and flexibility, there are tradeoffs. Less bandwidth is
available in a wireless network, which is shared by all wireless network users
in a given area. This is most often felt where large file transfers or high-bandwidth
multimedia applications are used. Also, security of wireless networks is more
difficult to achieve, and installing network wiring to access points sometimes
requires long lead times and coordination.
What do I need to do to establish a wireless connection?
You may need to purchase a wireless Ethernet card. Most new
laptops have wireless already installed and need no additional cards. There
is no charge to establish a connection, but you must have the proper Ethernet
card for your machine.
What kind/brand of wireless card should I purchase?
We have used the Orinoco (Lucent), NetGear and 3COM PCMCIA
802.11 b/g cards. Most laptops will accept a PCMCIA card. The companies listed
above make 802.11 b and g PCMCIA cards. Many of the new Windows-based laptops
have wireless capabilities already installed and need no additional cards.
Will other types of wireless cards work? Is there support for them?
Yes, as long as the cards are IEEE 802.11b "Wi-Fi" Direct Sequence
Spread Spectrum (DSSS) compliant. In theory, all cards that support these
standards should work.
Can I do everything with a wireless connection that I could do with a wired
You will be able to do just about everything from your portable machine
that you would normally do from your wired desktop computer. However,
you may not run a server using the wireless network and you should not
routinely share a disk drive between Windows systems. This network is not
intended to replace the wired network.
Can I walk around while accessing the network?
Yes, this is called 'mobility' and 'roaming'. However, there
are limitations. The system has to know when a user has left the area and no
longer requires a connection. An idle timer is used for this function. When
you have been idle for the time limit you are disconnected (logged out) from
the network. Your next attempt to connect will require that you login again.
The time limit will be set long enough that you can walk from one side of the
campus to the other side of the campus (or longer). So you can close your
(put it to sleep) and walk to another spot on campus and open your laptop and
you will still be connected to UWIN.
Does it matter how many people use the wireless network at one time?
The network can handle hundreds of users logged in at one
time, but the more active the users connected to any one hotspot (access point),
the slower the network gets at that spot. One access point can handle approximately
30 computers with users doing typical things without any noticeable degradation
in network performance. You will notice performance changes more easily on a
wireless shared network as compared to a wired network connection.
I'm not even getting 11 Mbps. Is my card defective?
11 Mbps is a theoretical maximum speed. With a 11 Mbps card, you will
probably see a maximum speed of approximately 5Mbps. With a 54 Mbps
card, you will probably see a maximum of 27 Mbps.
Why is my wireless connection disrupted more often than my wired
There can be many factors that would cause disruption including
large metal objects, trees, cordless phones, or microwave ovens that are operating
in the same 2.4 or 5 GHz frequency range, plus multiple users connected to the
same access point and sharing of the wireless bandwidth--all these factors can
disrupt wireless connections. Remember, the wireless network is designed for
your mobility and is not a replacement for the wired network. If you are running
a machine from a fixed location, it is required that you use a traditional Ethernet
What about my wireless PDA?
Many small devices cannot run a web browser to make a connection.
There is a procedure in place to allow these devices on the network, but the
owner will have to accept the risks associated with the communication to and
from the device being visible to anyone who wants to look. Contact Information
Networks at 337-482-6418 (x 26418) for additional information.
What about making printers, plotters and scanners wireless?
Unless you need a printer in the middle of the swamp or the quadrangle,
these types of devices do much better on the wired network.
Is wireless networking secure?
Because wireless network signals travel through the air just like signals
used by cordless phones, radios, and other wireless devices, anybody within
range can intercept that signal--and potentially view the data being sent
back and forth by your computer. Just like law enforcement agencies can
wiretap your phone, people on a wireless network can "tap" into your
network connection. This means that a malicious user could read your
e-mail, steal your passwords or credit card numbers, or intercept any other
sensitive data that may be traveling over the network. In an attempt to
protect wireless users from these types of attacks, the wireless
technology's designers created an encryption process for it called Wired
Equivalent Privacy (WEP). When WEP is activated, data sent over the
network is encrypted and other users are unable to see in plain text what
you are doing. However, due to a design flaw, WEP is easily
compromised. An attacker can break the WEP encryption and still view
your data by using some readily available programs.
Another problem inherent in wireless networking is that any person with a
laptop and wireless network card can connect to the network without
undergoing an authentication process to verify his or her identity. The issue
here is with accountability; it would be difficult to track down malicious
users who could gain access to university resources without ever actually
logging in to a university computer. Clearly this presents a major potential
problem--not just for the university, but also for corporations,
government agencies, organizations, and any other environment where
wireless networks are deployed.
How is UL Lafayette addressing security issues with UWIN?
Information Technology (the parent division of Information
Networks) is committed to providing our users with a wireless computing environment.
We have implemented an environment that requires users to authenticate themselves
before using the wireless service. The user must select applications which provide
data security when necessary. Anytime names and passwords must be typed, or
sensitive information entered or reviewed you should use an application that
protects the data by encryption.
For example, use SFTP instead of FTP, SSH or PUTTY or HUMMINGBIRD instead of
RLOGIN, TELNET or TN3270, etc. When using a web browser make sure the page is
in secure mode before entering any sensitive information like your CLID and
Where is UWIN available?
The list of locations is always growing. You can see more
about UWIN availability.
Can I use 'HomeRF' standard cards?
No. The HomeRF cards use a different type of radio technology and it is
not compatible with the 'WiFi' family of products.
What should I not use the wireless network for?
Applications that require a lot of data transfer should not
be expected to run reliably over the wireless network. This would apply to things
like streaming audio/video, running server based applications, extremely large
file transfers, sharing disks between computers, and interactive graphic environments
I don't even see a UWIN signal. Is there a problem?
You have to be in a coverage area. First, please check here
to see if you are in a covered area. If you are in covered area there are two
easy ways to check the signal. First, if you have a friend with a wireless laptop
just ask them to move their laptop and see if they see a signal where you are
having a problem. If they see a signal there is something mis-configured or
a hardware problem with your computer. Second, if a laptop sees a UWIN signal
somewhere else but where you are trying to use it, this could be a UWIN problem.
Call TT# (off-campus call 337-482-0088) and report the outage. Make sure to
include a way that we can call you back!