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University Bans Wireless Access Points

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the fight-the-man dept.

Wireless Networking 1211

Slayk writes "The University of Texas at Dallas has adopted a policy of disallowing the use of 802.11b/g access points outside of those used for the campus-wide wireless network. While they have an understandable concern with ensuring the accessability of the school network, the rights of the students to use the unlicensed 2.4GHz spectrum in the privacy of their own apartment are obviously being regulated by a body that is not the FCC. Students have until the 15th of September to comply with the policy, disable their wireless equipment, and string cat5 over the floor, or be subject to 'disciplinary action.'"

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Where's the problem here? (5, Insightful)

beh (4759) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200189)

If those apartments belong to the University, and the presence of your access point harms/disrupts the operation of their own network then to me it looks like it is well within the rights of the university to demand this - and as they can't single out a specific access point to cause the problem it seems just that they require ALL to be shut down.

On the other if those apartments do not belong to the university, then I wouldn't see how they should even try and enforce this.

In either case, it's not much of an issue - and it's not a freedom of speech / censorship issue, since they DO allow private access to the internet by wired means...

Re:Where's the problem here? (4, Informative)

VCAGuy (660954) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200231)

The trouble is that the 2.4GHz spectrum is unregulated. The college has no right to tell you that you can't use a legally licensed device in the 2.4GHz spectrum in the apartment.

Now, hooking that AP up to the ResNet is certainly against the college's AUP, but that's not what's happening here. Students with private cable modems are setting up a private WiFi network. Since the 2.4GHz bands are unregulated, the FCC has sole regulatory authority over them--the college, no matter how prestigious, does not.

Re:Where's the problem here? (5, Insightful)

Mr Guy (547690) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200264)

No, it's called a lease agreement, with a change clause. Use the spectrum all you want, they are prohibiting a device, just like they can prohibit hotplates. If you don't like it, feel free to move out.

Re:Where's the problem here? (3, Informative)

Mr Guy (547690) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200323)

As sort of a double whammy, there's also the: Code of Conduct [utdallas.edu] that has clauses that ALSO specifically allow them to institute arbitrary rules for the good of the campus community, as determined by them.

Re:Where's the problem here? (2, Informative)

Quimo (72752) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200330)

The problem with this is that the FCC specifically states that only they can resolve matters with regards to unlicensed spectrum. The statement in particular is that they have Exclusive Authority regardless of venue. That states to me that they can't force you to disable it. They can ask you to just about anything with regards to wireless access but they have to authority to demand.

Re:Where's the problem here? (5, Insightful)

Mr Guy (547690) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200387)

Repeating it doesn't make it more valid. Students enter into a private contract where they agree to behave in certain ways and obey arbitrary rules in order to live certain places and attended colleges and universities.

Students have every right to access part of the spectrum, but the University still has the right to expell them if they violate the part of the agreement that lists what they may and may not use in their dormroom.

Re:Where's the problem here? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200343)

The thing is that a lot of times some things written into lease agreements that are legally unenforcible. hence a clause that says if any portion is unenforcible, it does not invalidate the entire contract. Colleges are exempt from a lot of tenant protection laws though.

Re:Where's the problem here? (1)

Michael Spencer Jr. (39538) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200377)

So laptops with integrated wifi and hostap software are OK then?

Re:Where's the problem here? (4, Insightful)

Sc00ter (99550) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200268)

They can make it against the rules to smoke in your dorm room, yet that is a legal activity. Face it, you're on their property, it's their building, tough titties. You don't like it, move off campus or go to a different school.

Re:Where's the problem here? (1)

Slayk (691976) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200346)

The university doesn't own the building. It's owned by a privately owned company, but on university land.

Re:Where's the problem here? (1)

itp (6424) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200281)

Not if the university owns the apartment.

"But, blah blah blah, my rights online! Michael said so!"

Not if the university owns the apartment.

Re:Where's the problem here? (1)

beh (4759) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200303)


You're right - the airwaves aren't regulated. But they aren't telling you, that it is illegal to use them.

Take another example - if a few tenants on the ground floor of the building would constantly have all water faucets / showers running at full tilt, than that might result in the ones of the top floor no longer getting enough water to take a shower. In this case, your use of water is perfectly legal, but the landlord might still try and evict you since your behaviour is disruptive to the other tenants (or - before trying to get you out, try and find a compromise that is workable for everyone). If the landlord wouldn't do anything about it - he might actually even be sued by those who no longer have access to water (since the water comes with the flat).

The *spectrum* is unregulated, not the *dorms* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10200309)

The university owns the buildings - they do have the right to say what can and can not be put in them. It's a private contract between a student and the university. No one is forcing you to go there.

Re:Where's the problem here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10200331)

Umm, but the apartments are owned by the University. Property-owners can basically tell you that you can't run certain kinds of equipment on their property. If you don't like it, move to an apartment off of UTD property. (Of which there really aren't any, so, sorry...)

Re:Where's the problem here? (1)

markhb (11721) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200332)

The college has every right over you that you granted them in the fine print of the lease and the letter of intent paperwork. Besides, considering that the cable company didn't even serve campus housing when I went to college (which was back in the ARPANet days), these guys are worthless and weak!

Re:Where's the problem here? (1)

pimpinmonk (238443) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200366)

I see your point, but I think that if these are University-owned apartments, it is well within their rights. It's like an apartment prohibiting you to smoke, to repaint your walls, to play loud music, to put christmas lights on your balcony, etc. On the other hand, I didn't RTFA but if you're not on the campus network, how can they trace your AP to you? Btw, at my school APs are disallowed in all dorms, but not in university apartments. However, if yours isn't causing any disruptions (ie: your building isn't close to campus and the on-campus wi-fi, you have a weak AP such as airport express) they (the IT team) probably won't give you problems.

Landlord has no right to restrict, even in airport (1)

blorg (726186) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200390)

...as the FCC has sole jurisdiction in this area. See for example this ruling [cellular.co.za] where the landlord (Denver International Airport) was not allowed to prevent tenants (airlines) setting up independent networks, even though it was claiming safety grounds. AFAIK landlords cannot include a prohibition on private 802.11 networks in a lease, and if they do, that prohibition will not be upheld by a court.

The point is, if you want a guarantee against interference, you need to get a licence for a *licenced* band, pay the FCC fees, and do your thing there - 802.11 is unlicenced, and as such you have no guarantee to be free of interference.

I don't see how the university would be any different (perhaps in some jurisdictions university residences can fall outside normal tenancy law; still in this case it appears that the FCC is quite clear on it being the body with total jurisdiction.)

Re:Where's the problem here? (1)

ahsile (187881) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200246)

Well... if I were a student that was affected by this... I would comply, I don't think there's much choice about it. What I would do though, is find as many spots as possible around the university and bathe it in WiFi signals from property they don't control. That's just my opinion though.

Re:Where's the problem here? (0, Troll)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200362)

"if I were a student that was affected by this... I would comply"

What a pathetic clone you are. Go jump off a cliff. (Oh, wait, I didn't mean that - you sound like the type that might just do that.)

People like you make me sick, sold out from day one.

Re:Where's the problem here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10200254)

In general, when you rent an apartment you get certain rights and privileges. Rather than simply informing the students how to properly setup the access point so as not to interfere they've immediately gone to the draconian, dictator style so popular among Universities.

Re:Where's the problem here? (2, Insightful)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200274)

The apartments in question do indeed belong to the University.

There's no problem here, other than a whiny Slashdot editor.

Re:Where's the problem here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10200292)

The problem, as I read it, lies in that they are regulating the individuals use of the spectrum when have no right to do so.

It would be like them telling the students that because they have a campus radio station that all radios must be tuned to that station and nothing else, ever. Otherwise, they face disciplinary action.

Will they ban the use of ham radios, walkie-talies and TV remotes next? What about cordless and cell phones? If they get away with this, can require students to use a particular brand of LAN card or wireless device?

My comments may seem over the top, but the university is overextending their jurisdiction.

Re:Where's the problem here? (4, Informative)

JamesD_UK (721413) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200297)

That's not the case. The FCC has exclusive rights to resolve matters such as these under the Communications Act of 1934, including those regarding unlicensed devices such as wifi. FCC's Over-the-Air Reception Devices [fcc.gov] rules (OTARD) specifically prohibit landlords, state and local governments and third parties from placing restrictions upon users of these unlicensed devices.

Re:Where's the problem here? /RTSL (1)

mr_z_beeblebrox (591077) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200318)

That's read the supplemental links. The FCC has established that use of unlicensed radio equipment is your RIGHT and that they alone can impose restrictions on that right. Since it is YOUR spectrum in those apartments I am not clear how they feel they can do this.

Re:Where's the problem here? (1)

metalion (734521) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200351)

If those apartments belong to the University, and the presence of your access point harms/disrupts the operation of their own network then to me it looks like it is well within the rights of the university to demand this - and as they can't single out a specific access point to cause the problem it seems just that they require ALL to be shut down.

On the other if those apartments do not belong to the university, then I wouldn't see how they should even try and enforce this.

In either case, it's not much of an issue - and it's not a freedom of speech / censorship issue, since they DO allow private access to the internet by wired means...

Yes, but can't they just make guidelines for wireless security? This would not be picking on any single access point but would rather ensure that all access points follow a specific protocol. It may be said that they would have to go through the trouble to enforce this but they are still having to look for rogue access points with the current plan in place.

Re:Where's the problem here? (1)

HancockDC (148897) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200353)

The same policy exists at the University of Missouri. The residential halls here are fully wired, and most of the classroom buildings, Student Union, Library, and many other buildings are served by WAPs.

It is the University's infrastructure, and with all the other problems brought on by unsafe computing practices (mostly caused by ignorance) it does not seem to me to be a burdonsome restriction, especially when access is so easy.

All students need to do to get access to the network is to (1) install anti-virus software, (2) enable automatic updates, and (3) enable the personal firewall on their personal computers.

Yes, there are some hoops to jump through, but it is nothing compared to having no access becase to manny computers are infected, and dragging down the network for all users.

FP (-1, Troll)

craigandrews (559488) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200196)

FP

First Post :P (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10200199)

:P

Not a bad time.... (5, Interesting)

mattdev121 (727783) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200204)

Looks like it's not a bad time to consider putting up some of this: Anti Wi-Fi Wallpaper [slashdot.org]

Re:Not a bad time.... (1)

beh (4759) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200372)

Well - this might help in some situations, but I would ask you to consider another few points on this:

a) If you run an access point in your room and use the wallpaper as to no longer disturb others with your airwaves -- why not just use a wired connection? Within a single room, it's definetely cheaper...

b) If you don't run an access point, you can use the Anti-WiFi wallpaper to keep the airwaves of the other students access points out - but at the same time, this will indiscriminately also block out the airwaves from the free campus service you actually might want to use...

c) if you put up anti-wifi wallpaper (which isn't going to be cheap), bear in mind that the landlord will very probably as you to take it down (and put up normal wallpaper again) once you decide to move out again...

In either case, it does not seem a good solution.

Anti-WiFi wallpaper makes sense, when you have a really good reason to keep ALL airwaves out (say, near medical operating equipment, ...) - in other cases, it's probably not really going to be of much use...

Wah Wah Wah my rights! (2, Insightful)

jbltk (801038) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200206)

The college has a perfect right to restrict the use of those devices on their property. Perhaps the submitter/editor doesn't understand that you can tell people what to do on your property. You don't have a fundamental right to install a Wifi router wherever you see fit.

Re:Wah Wah Wah my rights! (1)

53cur!ty (588713) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200342)

Your property does not include the 'air' above it! While the University MAY have the right to make this restriction your arguement is flawed. I hope the student's take the University to task on this as it seems they may have a legitimate gripe (without having more detailed information).

Stop Socialism before it's to late. [deliberate...ngdown.com]

Re:Wah Wah Wah my rights! (4, Insightful)

mr_z_beeblebrox (591077) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200380)

When you rent your property out you give up a subset of those rights. The students do not live in a dorm as 'invited guests'. They are paying tenants and as such have rights.

According to the FCC you do have a fundamental right to install WiFi routers wherever you see fit. There was a link to that specific bit of info cleverly hidden in plain view in the article.

Here's an idea: (-1, Redundant)

Bingo Foo (179380) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200208)

Let's whine about it!

In soviet Georgia Tech... (4, Informative)

Laivincolmo (778355) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200213)

At Georgia Tech, wireless access points are already banned from rooms. You can usually find some though by war.. roaming down resident halls. The rooms aren't really big enough to need wireless anyway, though.

When I went there, sure (1)

Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200302)

RANT

Woodruff had the largest rooms, I believe. Then they built ULC - friggin apartments for mostly the athletes, complete with stoves, fridges, et al. Don't know what happened after the olympics, though I think all of those dorms went to Georgia State

/RANT

Seriously, can a private (or even state funded) entity ban the public from accessing an FCC licensed spectrum? I know that organizations, such as home owners associations, etc. cannot prevent an individual from accessing the sky, even if it interferes with architectural restrictions, etc.? Not saying they can't, but I would like to find the relevant law on the subject matter.

Re:In soviet Georgia Tech... (1)

Flamesplash (469287) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200324)

I ran one all last year in GLC, one of the graduate dorms, and never had anyone complain. It's a very unenforced policy it would seem. Even after someone pointed that part of the contract out I didn't really think it enough to stop being able to use my laptop in the living room. The signal only barely reached the sidewalk outside from my 5th floor room.

Re:In soviet Georgia Tech... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10200365)

Thankfully the concrete walls of the dungeons^H^H^H^H^H^H^H dorms at Georgia Tech are strong enough to weaken most signals.

Also if you have a linksys WRT54G, you can download modified firmware that allows you to lower your power output.

http://www.hyperdrive.be/hyperwrt/ [hyperdrive.be]

I think the reason the administration has been lax so far is that the LAWN (local area wireless network) does not yet extend to the living areas for the most part.

Re:In soviet Georgia Tech... (1)

themo0c0w (594693) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200382)

Several students (who also happened to be hams) have gone to the FCC about this for arbitration, because no one but the FCC can regulate radio spectrum.

So, any hams out at UT Dallas might want to look into appealing directly to the FCC.

Not rocket science (1, Troll)

gowen (141411) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200214)

i) Sign up at school
ii) Fail to follow school rules
iii) Bannination occurs.
iv) Obtain job at favourite fast food outlet

Where's the problem here?

Their rooms, their rules.

Duh.

Re:Not rocket science (1, Insightful)

jusdisgi (617863) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200294)

It's not quite that simple...while the rooms might be theirs, the radio spectrum everywhere is regulated as public property under the FCC's authority. When they say everybody has a right to a portion of it, no one else is allowed to keep others from using it. Their ownership of property where that radio transmission will occur has no bearing on that.

Re:Not rocket science (2, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200368)

When they say everybody has a right to a portion of it, no one else is allowed to keep others from using it
Err, wrong. In fact, thats a completely misunderstanding of the law.

Anyone who signs up for college agrees to follow their rules practices. That's a contract, and its binding. They can't stop you from using the unlicensed spectrum, but they can kick you off their campus, as its theirs.

Similarly, I've a right to use my cellphone, but if I try it on an airplane, they'll kick me off.

I've a right to privacy, but if I try and board an airplane without ID, they'll tell me to fuck off.

It's their property, and they decide what you can and cannot do while you're on it.

Re:Not rocket science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10200325)


i) Sign up at school
ii) Fail to follow school rules
iii) Bannination occurs.
iv) Obtain job at favourite fast food outlet

Where's the problem here?

The problem is the missing v) Profit!

What ?? (1)

Potatomasher (798018) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200218)

Just because they own the land doesn't mean they own the airwaves on it.

Re:What ?? (1)

beh (4759) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200258)

No - but no matter where you try and rent a place, if YOUR behaviour causes problems for the landlord or disrupts the landlords work, then you'll most likely be evicted. You could then still go and move somewhere else, where this might be tolerated!

In this particular case, and in the way they explain the situation, it does not seem to be an unreasonable request to me.

Maybe. Maybe not. (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200266)

One thing for certain though is they do own the infrastructure you are trying to access. Therefore, they can restrict or limit how you access as they see fit.

Re:Maybe. Maybe not. (1)

Potatomasher (798018) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200327)

"They do own the infrastructure you are trying to access" ??? No - when I was living on campus I had my own private high-speed connection. At the time I did not have WIFI, but if I did have it, I dont' see why I would've had to stop using mine so that the University's would work better.

Re:What ?? (1)

Fredrik Leijon (609309) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200315)

Indeed, might be a good time to invest in a 2.4ghz cordless phone =)

Re:What ?? (1)

Krandor3 (621755) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200348)

If they own the apartments (which I belive they do), then they have the right to regulate to an extent what people can do in those apartments through the agreement that was signed when the people moved into those apartments. The only way that agreement could be overridden is if there is an FCC reg that specifically says that they cannot restrict wireless gear and to my knowledge there is not (as an example of where there is such an FCC reg is small satellite dishes - the FCC does say that HOA and I think apartmetns as well cannot prohibit you from putting them up). Just because 2.5G is unregulated does not mean a lease agreement cannot prohibit you from having that device. I don't like the fact they are doing this, but they are well within their rights to do it.

Not the first place to do so (3, Informative)

nb caffeine (448698) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200219)

My school did the same thing. Luckily i worked part time in IT, and the network guys knew that I knew how to lock down my wifi router, so they didnt bitch about mine. Now they even have a kid with a PDA go down the halls of the dorms and "war-walk". Luckily, they say they "dont support wifi" and that "you are responsible for everything on your connection" etc, etc, so they are more friendly than the school in the article.

interference (1)

dirvish (574948) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200221)

Students can use the university's access points. If they set up their own they would interfere with the network that the university has setup. The university should have the right to protect their network infrastructure on campus.

Re:interference (1)

Potatomasher (798018) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200301)

How is this different than any business asking their neighbour to shut off their access point, because it interferes with theirs ? The signal WILL propagate from one property to the other, and cause interference there as well. 2.4GHz is unlicensed. You have to live with whatever interference is on that spectrum, no matter how/where its generated. Hell if students decided to create a gian microwave oven, which would completely saturate the 2.4 spectrum they should have the right too.

Re:interference (1)

Sc00ter (99550) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200376)

The business next door doesn't own my house. In this case the school does own my house. No WiFi or hotplate for me..

Oh coome on... (0, Troll)

drdink (77) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200224)

The university I attend and work for has this exact same policy. The issue is not FCC regulation, but you being a student at the university and having to live under their rules that you agreed to live under when enrolling as a student. Stop whining and just use their wireless network. There are far too few 802.11* channels for students, faculty, and staff to have their own rogue WAPs in the same vicinity as official university ones.

Re:Oh coome on... (0)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200363)

I believe that the point of the FCC regulation is that landlorts (A university) is not ALLOWED to make that rule (No WiFi).

It doesn't matter if there are too few channels, it's unlicenced so all devices MUST accept interference, regardless of source. Ever read the FCC text on the bottom of WiFi routers?

What a great idea... (1)

bonkedproducer (715249) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200225)

I'm sure I want to receive my education from a school that can't learn to deal with changes in technology. I mean if they are incapable of dealing with something this simple, and just choose to ban use, why would I think they take the easy way out with other tough questions?

Re:What a great idea... (1)

finkployd (12902) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200280)

Let's see, they provide wireless, they don't want "joe idiot student" putting up rogue access points that interfere with theirs. I don't see the problem here.

This has nothing to do with being unable to deal with changes in technology, they seem right on top of that. This has to do with there being effectivly 3 channels you can use with 802.11bg.

Finkployd

OMG (2, Informative)

mix_master_mike (540678) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200226)

This is news. I haven't even read it, but here at UofM we don't get to have any sort of router in the dorms (inc wireless). Something about newbs putting junk on the network and ruining things. Mike www.vafrous.com

"We can do what we want with *your* network" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10200232)

"And you can't tell us otherwise."

Bah.

What a whiney tone for a posting from a supposedly-neutral editor.

h0h0 (1)

VAXGeek (3443) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200233)

"regulated by a body that is not the FCC"

Try and put 802.11b/g hot spots:

1) All over the mall
2) Up and down your street, in trees, etc.
3) In your neighbor's house

I think the FCC will be one of the last places to complain. Much like joining the army, when you decide to live on campus, you agree to lose certain rights. Deal with it.

don't use 802.11b...use 802.11a at 5ghz instead (4, Insightful)

Danathar (267989) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200240)

Big deal...

Go buy an 802.11a access point...and operate at 5Ghz

Sure....it costs more and has less range but it should be adequate.

The FCC will spank them... (3, Informative)

Temkin (112574) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200241)



Part 15 devices are REQUIRED to accept all interference from other devices. The FCC will spank them just to protect their turf, and that will be the end of that.

Re:The FCC will spank them... (2, Informative)

scseth (127105) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200385)

Achem, except that they are plugging their wireless access point into the University Network.

Sure, if students wanted to create a Local Wireless Network, that did not connect to the University's network in any form, perhaps the students could be protected by the FCC. But that is not what is happening.

This is just like an enterprise telling employees not to plugin wireless access points into the enterprise network. The IT dept cannot monitor, manage, and ensure security on a "rogue" access point. The University has deployed wireless access points - so its not like the students do not have that as a service.

I don't see the story here. Universities, enterprises, hospitals, etc are banning "rogue" APs to ensure the use of sanctioned, managed access points. Seems like logical sense to me.

Same policy exists at Georgia Tech (4, Informative)

derkaas (654904) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200242)

Unofficial access points are prohibited at Georgia Tech too (Wireless Policy [gatech.edu] ). From a security standpoint, it makes perfect sense.

802.11a (2, Interesting)

Unixfreak31 (634088) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200243)

I guess this will be the great return of 802.11a since it runs on the 5ghz spectrum.

Probably Unenforcable (1)

chrispyman (710460) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200244)

Technically I think it's pretty much unenforcable as I doubt they'll be running around sniffing out WiFi networks. I think its more of a "if your WiFi gets hacked you get blamed" type policy. Without such a policy, you really wouldn't have a clue who to hold responsible for their actions on their network.

Article Text (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10200247)

Some students in Waterview have been experiencing problems when trying to connect to the UTD Wireless Network. The reason has been found to be the result of over 100 wireless access points being set up by residents. These access points are connecting to Comcast Cable Modems or to SBC DSL (or other providers) for their Internet access and then are being shared out to other residents within the same or adjacent suites.
The problem this creates is interference or an actual denial of service to other students not wishing to utilize these "unknown" access points, as the wireless network cards attempt to connect to the nearest and strongest signal available - which is often the "unknown" access points. Locking down the access points does not help this problem, but actually makes it even worse.

A letter has been sent to Waterview Apartment residents describing the situation in some detail and advising them that no wireless access points other than university-installed ones will be allowed - with a specific exception.

No 802.11b or 802.11g wireless access points may be installed within the Waterview Apartments by residents. Only 802.11a wireless access points will be allowed and those must be set only to the specific channels provided for that purpose (see list below). In other words, no access points using the 2.4GHz band may be used and only certain frequencies in the 5GHz spectrum.

Another simple option is to use ethernet cabling to connect everyone in an apartment to the commercial broadband connection. This can be done using a cheap router and some ethernet cables, all readily available at the UTD Tech Store, Radio Shack, Microcenter, CompUSA or a multitude of other places.

Connect the commercial modem (cable/DSL) to the router, then plug in the ethernet cables and connect them back to each computer in the apartment.

NOTE: We do not recommend drilling holes in the walls. This will ultimately cost you more money!

The UTD Technology Store (BK1.3 or extension 6500) is working to offer 802.11a wireless access points to use in place of the 802.11b/g. The possibility even exists that they may offer a discount of some sort for newer 802.11b/g access points that are traded in on an 802.11a.

This is an unfortunate situation that has problems no matter what the resolution may be. But the free wireless service provided by the university in Waterview must take precedence over those few users who may choose to do something different.

So if you are using a wireless access point (not a wireless card or adapter for your desktop), then you should immediately start considering your options. Sometime within the next few weeks, someone will be knocking on apartment doors to notify those with "unknown" access points that they will need to shut those devices off.

We ask your patience and cooperation during this period and we are working to be sure that both Comcast, SBC and other providers do not recommend using a wireless access point.

802.11a Available Channels:

There are 12 channels available defined by the 802.11a standard in the 5GHz range. The four (4) lowest channels and the two (2) highest channels are available for students to use with their own access points.
Lower U-NII band (5.15-5.25GHz): 36, 40, 44, 48
Middle U-NII band (5.25-5.35GHz):
Upper U-NII band (5.725-5.825GHz): 157, 161
(52, 56, 60, 64 - NOT AVAILABLE) (149, 153 - NOT AVAILABLE)

Us too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10200248)

We have the same rule at my Uni (an unnamed UK Uni, to save the admin's blushes), but unregulated DHCP (no need to register your MAC address) for wired connections. Madness!

Once wi-fi takes off... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10200250)

we're gonna be seeing a lot more regulation of the networks. Just think how easy it would be to coordinate illegal activities (warez, music distribution) using a hijacked Wi-Fi network...

in other news... (1)

attam (806532) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200251)

UT Dallas expects enrollment at its engineering school to drop to zero for the upcoming school year.

What a waste of YRO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10200256)

What a bunch of petulant screaming for a total non-event. Just when you think Slashdot's editorial efforts could get no shoddier, you get a surprise like this.

Who lives in dorms anyway (1)

BeeRockxs (782462) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200257)

Your own apartment is the way to go.

Surely... (1)

beeglebug (767468) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200261)

there's a better solution than an outright ban?
Can't they just specify certain channels for private student networks?

You guys don't get it (3, Informative)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200262)

The university is breaking the law by forbidding WiFi.

The parent article/post points this out with this link:

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatc h/ DA-04-1844A1.pdf

In other words, the FCC forbids ANYBODY from telling you that you're not allowed to use your WiFi (Or, as I read it, any other device with an antenna less than one foot in length).

So, if we're not allowed to complain when somebody (UofT) breaks the law and denies us our (Well, Americans') rights, when ARE we allowed to complain?

Re:You guys don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10200319)

no, you dont get it cause you're a moron. end of story. their property, their rules. dont like em, then fuck off!

Re:You guys don't get it (0, Troll)

bugg (65930) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200334)

It's funny how most techie people agree that the FCC sucks and needs to be eliminated, yet when people on more local scales attempt to regulate themselves, they cry over the fact that the regulation *isn't* coming from the infamous FCC. Fuck the FCC.

Re:You guys don't get it (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10200369)

In other words, the FCC forbids ANYBODY from telling you that you're not allowed to use your WiFi (Or, as I read it, any other device with an antenna less than one foot in length).

Try reading the *whole* policy next time. This pertains to RF devices on your own property and network. I've never met a college student that actually purchased their dorm room from the uni.

It's their network... (1)

Sayten241 (592677) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200270)

The university has the right to control what sort of devices are on their network. I'm sure the students would be allowed to set up their own Wireless LAN that was not connected to the university network if they so chose.

Get over it (1, Insightful)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200271)

They don't have "rights" to use the spectrum if the University doesn't allow it. The fact is, those students are subject to the rules and regulations of their student handbook and University policies. As others have undoubtedly already said (because they type faster than I) - if they're living in University-owned apartments or dormitories, then the University can do what it wants. If the property is not owned/affiliated with the University, then there's no way it will be enforced. I think this is likely a nice troll story to start off my Thursday morning.

Then again, I went to a private University with must stricter rules than any public school. Even then, they weren't that bad. But I learned nice and quick that the school makes the rules and you're the one that is choosing to attend. That doesn't mean you have a "right" to attend. It's a little different with public schools, but the idea is still the same.

Re:Get over it (4, Funny)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200347)

[mulls it over]

University regulations vs. Federal law ... Gee, which takes precedence? Sounds like a complicated decision!

The Right???!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10200276)

Fight The Man?!! What the fuck is going on here? What makes you think this is a right of yours?

I guess I should fight the man by demanding the right to bring in my own popcorn and soda at the movie theatres too.

While I disagree with this policy, my school has the same take on it too, this hardly elevates the issue into "Your Rights Online". You don't like this, goto another school.

Hey teacher! (2, Funny)

Braingoo (771241) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200277)

Leave Wi-Fi alone!

Baylor is the same way (1)

lpret (570480) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200284)

Baylor University is already the same way and has been for a while. First, it's impossible for a wireless router to get an IP address from DHCP (since it cannot be registered) and second, it creates interference for our wireless network, AirBear [baylor.edu] . It's a private university, they can do whatever the hell they want.

RIT (1)

intrinsicchaos (652706) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200285)

That is old news at Rochester Institute of Technology http://www.rit.edu/ [rit.edu] . ITS doesn't allow us to have our own WAPs either in the dorms or in the apartments and they'll shut off our ethernet if they detect it. Didn't stop me from puttin' in an airport extreme. :)
It's to ensure security of their internal networks, they say - don't need non-students somehow gaining access to sensitive info (and there are some info there that only the RIT community can see, like floor maps of every building on campus).
Visitors can use the campus-wide wireless network for up to a certain time and then they must register their laptops with ITS.

Re:RIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10200379)

How are you keeping them from detecting it?

Or do you have someone just overlooking your AP?

Plymouth State University (2, Interesting)

jclinux (64175) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200288)

My school, Plymouth State in Plymouth, NH has a similar policy (sorry, couldn't find a link). No non-campus owned access points. Main reason being security control. The excuse they give to students? Using an access point might knock someone else in the building off the network.

But... do they enforce it? Not so far.

Re:Plymouth State University (1)

SavedLinuXgeeK (769306) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200367)

Yeah, my school is pretty much the same. I actually do tech support for my housing area, and they have told us that WiFi routers are illegal in the dorms. They say this, because they hope to deploy their own routers in the future, and if they can stop the uprising of rogue hotspots now, when they do deploy, it should be much easier to maintain. And again, as others have said, this is pretty much uninforceable without active measures.

Is it open & shut? Or not quite open & shu (5, Insightful)

fname (199759) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200295)

Well, clearly the University can't prevent the students from operating the wireless points just because they are the landlords. But can they do it as part of the student agreement? Can they do it in a housing contract? My questions are:

1) Can a landlord restrict use of a technology by explicitly putting it in the contract? The answer may seem obvious, but keep in mind that anyone can put up a DirecTV dish in their apartment no matter what the landlord says. And if they were allowed to, would landlords start restricting the use of WiFi as part of their contract or demand payement for it? I think that's what the FCC is trying to avoid.

2) Can the university bar the access points as a condition of being an enrolled student? If so, can they also ban other legal activities such as gambling, marching in protest or interracial dating? Not sure of the answer, but my guess is they can't.

I'm inclined to believe that the U. is without recourse here, at least one an affected student gets a lawyer. If they wanted to control the spectrum, they should've used a licensed band instead. I expect the policy won't last long.

"Privacy of their own appartment"? (2, Interesting)

Yelskwah (111041) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200298)

As we know, the signal is not confined to a single room unless you've got some of that silver wallpaper that was mentioned a while back.

Otherwise it's quite feasible to get a signal through two or three walls or a floor.

A large percentage of people still do not bother to / are able to configure WEP/WPA security on their access points. These people would be opening up the university network to unauthorized access, making their own internal server infrastructure (including valuable data like research material) for anyone close enough to an access point to see.

Yes, it's a rather draconian measure, but what other choice is there? They can't insist on setting up all student access points themselves (and then changing the password) can they?

WiFi Question (1)

YouTalkinToMe (559217) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200299)

This raises an obvious question. In the article, they say that this is causing problems because students' wireless cards automatically connect to the access point with the strongest signal. Maybe someone who knows about WiFi can explain: How do you get your card to connect to the access point of choice? Is this possible? Why isn't the university just telling their students how to do this?

That's just silly ... (2, Interesting)

Iggowanna (659238) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200306)

What's to prevent students from creating ad-hoc networks?

Easily solved problem (1)

nomoreself (762739) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200313)

From the UTD website: "The problem this creates is interference or an actual denial of service to other students not wishing to utilize these "unknown" access points, as the wireless network cards attempt to connect to the nearest and strongest signal available - which is often the "unknown" access points." Thus, the obvious fix here is to hand out the SSIDs of legitimate access points to those students trying to connect to UTD's wireless LAN and tell those kids to turn off the option to connect to the "nearest & strongest signal."

University of Rochester has this, too (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10200320)

This is likely becoming a more and more common thing--when morons don't configure their fucking Wal-Mart Linksys router, it's a security hole.

Many unsecured, unfiltered APs=many security holes and conflicts within the network.

It's only right.

Probably some NASA shit going on with Houston.

Good Idea (2, Interesting)

b4rtm4n (692708) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200340)

There is no reason why anyone should be allowed to connect a WAP to a network that doesn't belong to them.

This is a similar concept to banning modems.

If the Uni wanted their network to have public access then they would provide public access on their terms not through students plugging in WAPs and inadvertantly letting every joe in reception range surf anonymously through the Unis network.

It's pretty standard network design to only allow WAPs to exist in the dmz. Not a good idea to have them on the trusted network at all.

so? (1)

Trygve (75999) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200350)

It's not like they're trying to tread on the FCC's toes and license the spectrum themselves, they're just trying to maintain a semblance of network security in a relatively open environment. You're not allowed to plug a WAP into your company's LAN, are you? Why should this be different? If somebody puts up an AP, but doesn't plug it into the network, then they're exercising their right to use unlicensed spectrum, just like they would by using a 2.4GHz wireless phone or a microwave oven. But the owner of a network has every right to set policy prohibiting rogue AP's on the LAN.

"Their" apartment? (1, Insightful)

Canthros (5769) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200356)

I have the strangest feeling that "apartment" means "dorm room" in this context. At least, the article gave no indication that the problem was being caused by students living off-campus. So, the first problem is that they're renting space from the school. The school certainly has the right to set ground rules on their own property.

The second problem is that it's the school's network that's getting boned by this behavior, and that means that students' wireless networks are screwing over other students. The school also has the right to set ground rules regarding on-campus network usage.

In any case, nobody ever died because they had to use Cat5. I did it at my alma mater for four years, because either nobody had or nobody could afford wireless gear at the time. I'm sure you and your classmates will survive, somehow, this minor restriction in privilege.

Um.... (4, Insightful)

Marthisdil (606679) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200371)

While they have an understandable concern with ensuring the accessability of the school network, the rights of the students to use the unlicensed 2.4GHz spectrum in the privacy of their own apartment are obviously being regulated by a body that is not the FCC.

The comment above from the original poster seems to be a bit on the daft side. Sure, it's unlicensed. However, they are providing access to the school network. They aren't infringing on any rights of students by protecting their own network.

If it were me, I'd have said "get rid of them, or you can pay our internal security guy $200/hr, with 2 hours minimum, plus cost of hardware, to come out and install our own wireless AP in your place"

It's stupid, uninformed, biased crap like the original comment above that makes people look more, and more stupid as time goes by.

University Of Texas is not alone (2, Informative)

dingo217 (786854) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200381)

Washburn University of Topeka has the same rules. The rules are in place to ensure the integrity of the campus network and to limit the use of the resource to only the students enrolled and not the passer by on the street who taps an ignorant wrt54g user's broadcasted network.

What a load of it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10200386)

Cordless phones are next - especially those that operate in the 2.4GHz range!!!!

Oh FFS (3, Insightful)

Alioth (221270) | more than 10 years ago | (#10200391)


the rights of the students to use the unlicensed 2.4GHz spectrum in the privacy of their own apartment are obviously being regulated by a body that is not the FCC.

This whole story should be modded Score:-1, Overrated. A university apartment is *not* the student's property - it's *university* property and the university can impose regulations like this as they see fit. The FCC aren't going to care if a university prohibits the use of a non-University provided AP, there's no law stopping the University from forbidding the use of random APs brought in by students. If the student doesn't like the policy they are free to rent privately or go to another university. It's no different from a rule, say, forbidding students or staff from landing helicopters in the parking lot. That's not pre-empting the FAA which regulates airspace - it's simply the landowner (the university) imposing conditions of using their land.

Many apartment complexes have rules like you can't change your car's oil in their parking lot. This is really no different - if you don't like the rule, rent an apartment where the rules don't forbid 802.11b. It's entirely reasonable for the university to restrict 802.11b access points being plugged into *their* network too from a security point of view (non-secured AP + wardriver = nice big hole through any firewall they have).
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