Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is a laptop campus. Access to data networks is essential for personal, professional and academic communication and collaboration. Combine the need for network access with the proliferation of inexpensive mobile devices with wireless interfaces, and the result is a significant demand for wireless connectivity.
Wireless networking presents many challenges, including the number of standards, the limited number of channels available for the 2.4GHz frequency, security and management. In previous years Rose-Hulman students were allowed to install consumer wireless routers in the residence halls. We experienced wired networks on entire residence hall floors being disabled by wireless routers that were incorrectly connected to a network port. Wireless routers were left in their default configuration, allowing other students to abuse the connection by downloading excessive content from the Internet. Personal wireless routers also interfere with the campus wireless infrastructure in the academic and administrative buildings, plus they can allow unauthorized access to individuals sitting in a parking lot. This unauthorized access can result in excessive bandwidth use, or worse, the theft of private information due to unencrypted, or poorly encrypted, network traffic.
IAIT provides a comprehensive wireless network across the entire campus, including the residence halls and academic and administrative buildings. With the deployment of wireless networking in the residence halls personal wireless routers may no longer serve as wireless access points. A wireless router may be registered for network access, but the wireless functionality must be disabled so that the device acts only as a multiport network switch.
Wireless routers are typically sold at electronics, office supply and other retail outlets and are generally manufactured by Linksys (Cisco), Netgear, D-Link, Belkin and Apple. These devices include Ethernet switch ports and may include USB ports in addition to the wireless networking functionality. Because a wireless router can issue its own set of IP (Internet protocol) addresses to connected clients, it aggregates the network traffic of all the devices so that it appears to originate from a single source. This can lead to the abuse of the wireless router owner's bandwidth or access to the campus network by unauthorized individuals.
With enterprise wireless networks located throughout the residence halls it is now possible to roam freely from room to room or floor to floor. This is not possible with personally owned wireless routers as each has its own access or authentication requirements. The access points deployed by IAIT are IEEE 802.11n standard and use both the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz frequencies; this results in significantly improved bandwidth rates when compared to the IEEE 802.11a, b and g standards. The campus wireless network is identical across the campus, so a single configuration allows easy access from any location.
Technological measures will be used to disable unauthorized wireless routers.
With complete wireless networking across the academic and administrative building and the residence halls, wireless routers not installed and managed by IAIT are no longer allowed on the Rose-Hulman wireless network. Consumer models do not provide the manageability or security that the campus wireless access points provide. In addition, non-enterprise wireless access points may create interference with the enterprise wireless access points, impact the network performance of wireless network users, or confuse faculty, staff, students or guests with an unknown and insecure wireless network.
For the reasons listed above, wireless routers are not allowed on the Rose-Hulman network.