Wireless in Res Halls?

Many students ask about setting up wireless routers in the residence halls. Simply put, the campus housing is too densely populated for personal wireless access to work. It would be convenient, for sure, but there are a number of downsides.

More below. But the bottom line is this: PSU has expanded wireless access to public spaces (Library, HUB, Prospect) and academic buildings. By the end of this year, all common areas in residence halls will be have wireless access to the network.

What we cannot do, at least now, is bring wireless to the living areas. And, because of the inherent problems that are listed below, ITS simply doesn’t have the resources to support students who attempt to set up wireless access points in their rooms. In fact, we prefer that you don’t. Here’s why

Wireless at home vs. wireless in a densely-packed residence hall

Setting up a wireless router at home is easy. In a densely-packed resident hall, it’s something else altogether. There are a number of technical problems that arise when students hook up wireless routers in their residence hall or PSU apartment:

  • Wireless routers are set to a specific channel. If there are two or more wireless signals competing for the same channel, they’ll conflict and render each other useless.
  • Wireless routers are also impacted by some electronic equipment, like microwaves and wireless phones.
  • Unless a wireless router is configured correctly, it will allow others to connect to our network equipment that is not authorized or properly screened for viruses and operating system updates. That creates a network security hole that could negatively impact others on the residential network.

Additionally, the wireless signal provides maybe 1/10th of the capacity of a direct connection to a PSU network port. If multiple students are connecting on a single wireless access point, performance slows to a crawl.

Because of the support required, and the rapid evolution of wireless standards, ITS simply cannot provide support to those who want to install wireless hubs. It is also a security risk that we cannot condone. Consequently, and in light of the points above, we ask that you avoid using wireless hubs in the res halls and student apartments.

ITS Installing Wireless Access Points in Common Areas of Residence Halls

To help accommodate the growing demand from students to connect wirelessly, we are installing wireless access points in common areas of all the residence halls. Just like in the HUB or Lamson, you will be able to connect by logging in to the web page that pops up in your browser.

Meanwhile, if you want a little more latitude nn your room, consider a 15-25’ computer cable. You’ll have a much faster and secure connection. Cables are available for purchase at either the Lamson Learning Commons (front desk) or at the University Computer Store on Merrill St.
We’ll continue to listen to your feedback and grow our network to meet your needs.