Wireless Computing at NAU

FAQs for Departmental Installations

Additional FAQs for Students

Guest Wireless Access

 

ON THIS PAGE:

What is wireless?

How does it work?

What hardware do I need?

What software do I need?

Where do I get the hardware and software?

How do I install the equipment?

Can departments set up their own wireless access points?

What about security? How do I use the Virtual Private Network with NAU wireless?

Which areas of the campus are covered?

Can Macs go wireless?

What's the range of a signal, and how far away can I be?

Step-by-step instructions for getting up and running

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Wireless at NAU

What is wireless?

The NAU Wireless network is an extension of the NAU wired network. It allows users of portable computers to use NAU network resources over an 802.11b/G ("Wi-Fi") radio link.

How does it work?

The Wireless network uses "access points" that send and receive network data over the 2.4GHz radio frequency band, allowing portable computers with an 802.11b/G-compliant wireless interface card (WIC) to use the network. The way it works is that your computer will "associate" itself with the nearest access point, using that access point to join the network. The WIC software will receive a Dynamic Host Control Protocol (DHCP) address, allowing you to connect to the NAU Virtual Private Network (VPN). Using the VPN, you can then make use of any resources available, just as if you were plugged into the wired network.

What hardware do I need?

Most new laptops come with wireless interface cards already installed.  If you need to purchase a card for your laptop ITS supports the Cisco Aironet 350, Linksys model WPC11, WICS from DELL and the Belkin F5D6020 wireless cards.  The Belkin and the Linksys wireless cards are available at the NAU Bookstore.  ITS can also procure the equipment for your department.  However you can use any portable computer with an 802.11b/G-compliant wireless interface card. Depending on where you purchase them, you can expect to pay $60 or higher.

What software do I need?

You must be running Windows 98SE, NT, 2000, or XP.  Students using Windows ME are also supported. 

For PCs, all you need is the software driver that comes with your PC wireless interface card.

For  Mac, OS 10.2 comes with software you need.  Some older versions can use a third party Microsoft Virtual Private Network, (VPN) client, which you have to do in order to use the wireless network.  Please refer to the VPN page.

Where do I get the hardware and software?

Supported hardware and software products can be purchased at the NAU Bookstore. They also have operating-system upgrades.
You can also order departmental purchases through ITS.
Also mail-order vendors or local retail outlets supply these items.

How do I install the equipment?

Insert the card into the PCMCIA slot on your laptop computer. Insert the driver CD into the CD-Rom drive.  The OS should automatically detect the card and install the proper drivers.

The installation procedure may vary, depending on what kind of computer you have and which wireless interface card you're using. If you need assistance, contact the Solution Center at 3-1511(faculty/staff) or the Academic Computing Help Desk at 3-9294 (students), or call the equipment vendor's customer support number.

Can departments set up their own wireless access points?

ITS discourages departments from setting up wireless equipment on their own, mostly because of serious security issues and radio-frequency conflicts. However, ITS provides low cost installation and support for network equipment.

If your department is interested in setting up wireless access points, see FAQs for Departmental Installations for more information about how ITS can help get you on the air.

Can Macs go wireless?

Mac OS 10.2 comes with the necessary VPN software. If you have an older Mac OS, you must install a third party Microsoft VPN client such as TunnelBuilder. However, it may be cheaper to upgrade your operating system to Mac OS 10.2 if your hardware will support it. Please refer to the NAU VPN page for more information.

What about security? How do I use the Virtual Private Network with NAU wireless?

NAU's Virtual Private Network provides security for data transmitted along both the wired and wireless networks. Without the VPN, clear text passwords and data can be captured if the session is not encrypted.  By authenticating to the VPN with the VPN client your session will be encrypted between the PC and the VPN and not beyond these two points.  When connected to Internet based services please remember that the scope of NAU VPN security does not extend out to the Internet.  In effect the scope of VPN security is to protect you from exposure over the radio portion of the wireless network.

Which areas of the campus are covered?

Wireless access can be found at:

University Union Building 30 
Dubois Center Building 64
Learning Resources Center Building 61
Information Technology Services Building 54/54a
Eastburn Education Center Building 27
Engineering and Technology Bldg 69
Babbitt Administrative Center Building 51
Project Management Office Building 8
Physical Sciences Building 19
College of Business Building 81
Southwest Forest Science Complex Building 82
Wettaw Biology/Biochemistry Building 88
Gateway Center Bulding 43
Institute for Human Development Building 27A
Hotel/Restaurant Management Buildings 32,33,33A
Health Professions Building 66
Facilities Services Building 77
Colorado Plateau Studies Building 24
Riles Building 15
Biology Building 21
Ashurst Auditorium Bldg 11
Social and Behavioral Sciences Bldg 65
North Union Bldg 3
Nursing Bldg 72
Cline Library Bldg 28
Gammage Bldg 1
Bookstore Bldg 35

What's the range of a signal, and how far away can I be?

The range will vary depending on the composition of the building. The software that comes with your wireless interface card may have tools that show the connection speed and signal strength. By moving around, you can identify the areas that have the strongest signal and fastest speeds. Generally speaking, the highest connection speeds can be achieved when you're within 75 feet of an access point.

Step-by-step instructions for getting up and running

Here's a simple outline of the procedure for getting on the air with NAU's wireless network.

Buy and install the hardware and software

If you have a PC or a Mac, get a wireless interface card from the NAU Bookstore or another source of computer equipment. Installation procedures will differ, depending on what kind of computer you have and which wireless interface card you buy.
However you must DISABLE all proprietary security (WEP).
DHCP must also be enabled.

Configure your computer to run with the NAU Virtual Private Network (VPN)

To use the VPN, you need to have Microsoft VPN software on your computer. If you're running Windows 98, NT, 2000, XP, ME (students only) or MacOS 10.2, the software comes with the operating system. Go to ITS's VPN page and select "VPN Client Configuration" for specific instructions on how to configure the VPN client software.

Go to the coverage area

Once you've got the software configured, you're ready to go on the air. Take your computer to the coverage area.  Your wireless client
icon should allow you to view and select available wireless networks.  Select NAU (uppercase).  Be careful about selecting any other wireless network as you may be vulnerable to security exploits through these access points.
 
Start the VPN client software, and you'll be prompted for your username and password.  For help please refer to the VPN page. Once you've logged on to the VPN, you can do almost anything you can do on the wired network. The only caveat is that TCP/IP services are supported -- AppleTalk services, which typically include such functions as printing and file-sharing, are not supported.

Where to go for support

If you're having trouble getting up and running with the wireless network, you can get help from the Solution Center (faculty/staff) at 523-1511 or the Academic Computing Help Desk (students) at 523-9294.

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