Frequently Asked Questions
- What does it mean to say that the campus is "wireless"?
The wireless network at the University of Toronto allows laptop
computers to connect to the campus network using wireless/radio
frequency technology rather than the traditional ethernet card. The
wireless network supports the
These standards are know as
Check the coverage maps section for building/location specifics as not all location support all 4 standards. The campus wireless network does not support cellular technologies, but does support some wired connections via docking ports.
- Does/will the wireless network replace the wired network?
- No. The wireless network is offered as an added service, primarily for laptop users.
- What facilities can I use via the Campus wireless network UTORcwn?
- When using the Campus wireless network, your notebook computer is connected directly to the Campus Backbone network. It is not directly connected to any of the networks in the building which has wireless access. What this means is that you can connect to the Internet and any University or Departmental computers for which you have usage priviledges. Since you are not a part of a departmental LAN certain services may not be available. Direct access to Printers will not be available. There is printing available in some locations. Details are here.
- How does the wireless network work?
Devices called Access Points (AP) are installed at various locations on
campus. These Access Points are connected to the wired network. A
wireless card, similar to an ethernet card, is installed in your laptop.
The wireless card in your laptop uses radio frequencies to communicate
with the Access Point and through it to the campus network and the
You need to authenticate ( with your UTORid ) before you get access to the campus network ( and to the Internet ).
- Can I communicate directly with another wireless device?
- Yes. A device with an 802.11a/b/g PC card can communicate directly with another device (no Access Point required) with a similar PC card. The cards in both devices must be configured for "ad hoc" mode. Using your wireless device in this mode is discouraged.
- Are students/faculty/staff required to use the wireless network?
- Unless specified as a requirement to enter a program, use of the wireless network is completely optional. It is provided as an additional method of connecting to the U of T network.
- Why would I want to use the wireless network?
- The advantage of the wireless network is that it provides mobility. Using a wireless card in your laptop allows you to access the U of T network from locations that do not have traditional network connections, such as common areas, lounges and, in some cases, outdoors. It can be used while doing research in the libraries or to connect to the network during a meeting in a conference room or from a classroom.
- Do I have to buy special equipment to access the wireless network?
- You need to buy a wireless network card for your laptop to connect to the wireless network. Most laptops come with a this built in.
- What is a docking port?
- Some wireless locations also have 'docking' or wired ports available. Only an ordinary ethernet card (and patch cable) is required to use one. You plug into a designated outlet and make sure your laptop is configured to acquire its IP address dynamically. You have to register your MAC address the same as you would for wireless service and you authenticate yourself exactly as you would using a wireless connection. See How to setup.
- Is wireless communication secure?
- Just as a wired network can be "tapped", so can radio waves be intercepted when communication between the Access Point and the device with the PC card takes place. However, the wireless system makes use of a security feature called WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), which is an encryption scheme that makes it more difficult for intruders to interpret the transmission. U of T has decided to support the 128 bit encryption. We also have implemented an authentication system that limits access to the University Campus network to those that are legitimately a part of the University community. That being said and given current limitations of the 802.11 protocols it needs to be recognized that "snooping" is possible. Therefore, access via wireless cannot be said to be "secure". As 802.11 matures, it is expected that stronger methods to limit intrusion will be implemented. The University may also implement a scheme that limits any exposure.
- Is the installation of the PC card "Plug and Play"?
- The PC card comes with simple instructions for installation and under normal circumstances you will have no trouble installing the card. Detailed instructions are available at How to setup.
- Can anybody get connected to the U of T wireless network?
- No! You must register the MAC address of your PC card. You will need a valid UTORid to do this. For more details, see How to setup.
- Do I need to buy an Access Point?
- No. The Access Points are provided and installed by the university. In fact, as it is crucial to the functionality of the wireless network that the frequencies of the Access Points be centrally administered (by Computing and Networking Services), frequencies for all Access Points on the campus must be assigned and tracked by CNS.
- Should I purchase a wireless card or an ethernet card?
- It depends entirely on your predominant use of the laptop. If you are able to connect to a data outlet most of the time when you require access to the network (for example if you live in a residence with a data outlet or can use a docking port), you would benefit from the higher bandwidth of the wired connection. If roaming is imperative to your objectives you may be better served by a wireless card (keeping in mind that only selected areas have wireless coverage at the moment). Ideally, of course, you would have one of each card.
- Where can I use wireless?
- Check the wireless coverage maps for current locations. Specific areas in a building that have wireless coverage will usually have the following logo prominently displayed: [Click on the image to get a larger version]
- When will the wireless campus network be completed?
- The deployment of wireless is a work in progress. Check the wireless coverage maps for current locations.
- Can I use wireless at home?
- You can set up an 802.11 wireless network in your home that will only work within your home. It may be connected to an ISP and hence the Internet. If you use the same supplier that we do there will be no trouble working at home or at the campus. You cannot get to the University wireless network from your home however.
- Will residences have access to the wireless network?
- Yes some will. See the wireless coverage maps for current locations.
- Can I install a private wireless network on campus?
- Yes but there are network security guidelines that must be adhered to. CNS seeks out unauthorized access points and will take appropriate action when these are found. Additional information can be found at Setting Up a Private Wireless Network.
Last updated January 28,2011