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Airspace Guideline


Purpose

The Wireless Andrew network provides access to Carnegie Mellon computing resources from WiFi-capable computers and mobile devices. In order to provide the campus community with the most robust, reliable wireless network possible, it is important that Computing Services restrict the use of certain devices that use the same or neighboring radio frequencies in a manner that may be disruptive to the wireless network. The goal of this guideline is to help users of Wireless Andrew develop a clear understanding of the technologies that are acceptable for use in our wireless environment.

The Carnegie Mellon Computing Policy establishes a general policy for the use of computing, telephone and information resources. This guideline's purpose is to establish acceptable practices that support the policy as it applies to the use of certain radio frequencies in Carnegie Mellon campus buildings and outdoor spaces.

Computing Services reserves the right to modify this guideline as necessary. Any changes to this guideline will be posted to official.computing-news and will be reflected on this web page.

Applies to

This guideline applies to all campus affiliates. This includes students, faculty and staff members as well as those holding sponsored, guest, or courtesy accounts.

Definition/Clarification

Wireless LAN Specifications: The Wireless Andrew network uses the FCC 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Industrial/Scientific/Medical (ISM) and Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) bands to provide wireless services compliant with the IEEE 802.11a/g/n standards. Certain other "wireless" devices on the market utilize the same 2.4/5 GHz frequency bands and can cause interference to users of the Wireless Andrew network. These devices include, but are not limited to, other 802.11 wireless LAN devices, Bluetooth devices, wireless keyboards, wireless-enabled printers, cordless telephones, cordless headphones, video cameras, and audio speakers.

Wireless Access Point (WAP): For purposes of this guideline, a wireless access point is any device that wireless clients can connect to. In most cases, this takes the form of a device that plugs into an existing "wired" network connection and allows computers with wireless cards to access the wired network (also known as “infrastructure” mode). This can also take the form of a wireless client device talking to other wireless devices directly (also known as “ad-hoc” mode).

Internet Sharing: A function of a computer's operating system, or a third party application, which allows a computer to share network connectivity from one network interface (i.e. the wired Ethernet port) to another network interface (i.e. the wireless Ethernet adapter). This function essentially turns a computer or mobile device into a software-based WAP.

Rogue WAP: For purposes of this document, a rogue WAP is a WAP that is not managed by or approved for use by Computing Services. It may or may not be attached to the Computing Services wired network infrastructure. Cell-service based "personal hotspots" are an example of rogue WAPs when operating on campus.

Guideline Statement

To assure the highest level of service to the users of the Wireless Andrew network, we need assistance from all members of the campus community in minimizing the use of devices that may interfere with that network. In all cases our primary goal is to protect the availability and performance of the Wireless Andrew network for all campus users.

Computing Services requests that WAPs and other non-WiFi devices utilizing 2.4 and 5 GHz radio frequencies not be used in university-owned buildings or outdoor spaces on the Carnegie Mellon campus. This includes any wireless-equipped laptop, workstation, or mobile device configured to share its Internet connection wirelessly or operate in ad-hoc mode, as well as wireless routers and bridges that are common in home use with cable/satellite/DSL/fiber-based Internet services.

In cases where a wireless device is being used for a specific teaching or research application, Computing Services will work with faculty and staff to determine the circumstances under which use of the device can be accommodated without causing interference to Wireless Andrew users.

Computing Services will approach the enforcement of this guideline in the same way that it manages the shared use of the wired network. Primary attention will be paid to wireless devices that are found to be actively interfering with the Wireless Andrew network. The equipment used in Wireless Andrew allows for the discovery and containment of Rogue WAPs and other interfering wireless devices, and action may be taken against these devices when they are found to be disrupting the network. In these cases, if the owner/operator can be determined, they will be contacted and asked to correct the situation. In cases of severe interference or widespread user impact, steps may be taken to disable or contain the interfering device prior to attempting to contact the owner.

User Responsibilities and Procedures

If you think you have a device that may use 2.4 or 5 GHz radios for transmission or you are planning to purchase a wireless device and you are uncertain if it employs 2.4 or 5 GHz radios, please contact the Computing Services Help Center (contact information included below) to determine if such devices will cause interference to the Wireless Andrew network.

Please note that many wireless devices, such as wireless printers or disk backup systems such as the Apple Time Capsule can be configured to operate as a client on the Wireless Andrew network instead of as a WAP. The Computing Services Help Center can offer general configuration assistance for these types of devices.

Faculty and staff who need to use a wireless device for instruction or research should contact Computing Services Help Center to discuss an arrangement that will minimize the disruption to the Wireless Andrew network.

Revision History

Last Updated: December 13, 2011
Established: June 13, 2003