NC State Wireless Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What areas of the university currently have wireless service?

Most academic buildings and residence halls along with many outdoor areas have wireless coverage.

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I am having trouble connecting. Where can I get help?

You can call the university Help Desk at 515-HELP (4357). If you are a student, you can take your device to the Walk-In Center. If you are a faculty or staff member, please contact your LAN Administrator.

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Who can use the campus wireless service?

Anyone with a valid Unity ID and password can use the campus wireless service. In addition, guests can use the service to a limited extent. See the For Guests section of Wireless Network Access.

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How do I connect to the campus wireless service?

If you are in a covered area, your wireless-capable device should see the “ncsu” wireless network ssid. Simply select the “ncsu” ssid from the list. Then open a web browser to authenticate with your Unity ID and password. Once authenticated, you can surf the web, check your email and access university services.

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How do I connect to the campus wireless service if my device doesn’t have a browser for me to authenticate with?

If your device does not have a web browser, you can register it using the Nomad Registration System. In that case, you may edit the MAC address field in the “Add Device” section.

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What are the rules for using the campus wireless service?

Running remote services (e.g., web server, ftp server, nfs server, any person-to-person file-sharing services) is prohibited. All traffic to and from the Nomad System is logged and associated with the user, as permitted by REG 08.00.02 – Computer Use Regulation.

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Is the campus wireless service secure?

Wireless network users are responsible for the security of the data transmissions they send over the wireless network, as the transmissions are not encrypted or secure at this time. Users are strongly encouraged to use secure application-level protocols (e.g.,https, ssh, scp, vpn) when sensitive information traverses the wireless network; otherwise, they should move to the wired network.

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How do I log out of the campus wireless service?

You will be automatically logged out if you are idle on the network for two hours or off the network for 10 minutes.

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What is a wireless hotspot?

A room or other area covered by a single wireless access point is considered a hotspot. Coverage is guaranteed for that particular area only. An access point to create a hotspot can be requested by submitting an order in the ComTech Telecom and IT Billing Customer Center.

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If my department buys an access point from ComTech, can we take it us if we move?

No. Once an access point is installed it becomes part of the building infrastructure and cannot be moved.

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What is the difference between 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac?

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) certified a new wireless networking standard, 802.11g, by merging two incompatible older standards: 802.11a goes fast but not far, and 802.11b goes far but not fast. The “g” standard has a 150-foot range and a top speed of 54 Mbps. The “b” standard had a top speed of only 11 Mbps.

Among the key innovations of the 802.11n standard is multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO), a signal processing and smart antenna technique for transmitting multiple data streams through multiple antennas. This results in up to five times the performance and up to twice the range compared to the earlier 802.11g standard.

All campus wireless access points comply with the “n” standard, giving you the advantage of faster connections. The good news is that 802.11n is backward-compatible with 802.11b/g. This means that if you have a “b” or “g” card and are satisfied with your connection speed, then you do not have to purchase an 802.11n card.

The next generation of wireless is 802.11ac. When deployed, it can theoretically give three times the speed of 802.11n. The increase in speeds will be very beneficial for applications such as streaming video.

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Can a department install access points and connect them to the campus network?

Yes, as long as they do not interfere with existing campus wireless coverage. They must also follow all the rules for deploying private wireless networks on campus as defined by ComTech and OIT. See Rules for Implementing Wireless Networks at NC State.