14 October 2003

Wi-Fi networking

Report of Wi-Fi networking in Adelaide universities.

While in Adelaide recently to attend a conference, the Manager, TSU, took time to speak to some people regarding the rollout of wireless networking at the University of South Australia.

The University covers five campuses in the Adelaide metropolitan area, and a regional centre in Whyalla. The first part of the rollout was completed in July 2003 at the University's City West campus near the centre of Adelaide. Depending on finances, wireless networking is expected to be rolled out across the other Uni of SA campuses by the end of 2004. Staff and students supply their own equipment to access the network. They must download a Virtual Private Network (VPN) client to access the system, and use their standard login to access the network.

The VPN client, guides and configuration files are available for download to staff and students with Uni of SA log-ons. A website covering the use of the wireless networking resources is maintained at http://www.unisa.edu.au/ists/Wirelessnetworks/default.asp, where there are links to all the resources and information required (some accessible only to Uni of SA staff and students) to access and use the wireless network.

Users of the system are warned that malicious code may enter the University's network via a wireless connection, and are given detailed information about ensuring their computers are suitably protected. Staff are allowed to install the University's anti-virus software on their own computers, but students are urged to purchase their own anti-virus software and must install it themselves.

Paul Sherlock, Director of IT Services at Uni of SA was quoted in a press release from Netgear (the company which supplied the base stations), saying "A big issue for universities will always be space, especially as student numbers increase. As university learning environments become increasingly online focused, student demand for on-campus PC workstations keeps growing the actual space to put them in doesn't," Paul said. "Our solution was to provide a wireless network that could be accessed using the students' own notebook computers from anywhere in the campus, ultimately relieving the demand on the PC workstations. Now, both students and staff are able to access teaching and learning resources more freely. Visiting staff from other campuses can hook up to the network effortlessly." [see http://www.netgear.com.au/pressroom/press_releasesdetail.asp?id=107 for the press release]