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On Campus, WiFi Means AirPennNet: Connecting Safely

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September 13, 2011, Volume 58, No. 03

At Penn, as everywhere else, more of us are doing more work using wireless devices than ever before. This trend is reflected in the growth of AirPennNet, Penn’s  secure WiFi network. Much of the campus is now covered; check the coverage map at www.upenn.edu/computing/wireless/coverage.html to confirm for your location. Last fiscal year, more than 51,000 different PennKey holders connected to AirPennNet; an average of 24,000 different people connected each month for about an hour and a half per session, reaching a peak of 9,036 users connected simultaneously. We expect these numbers to continue to rise.

ISC is working with Schools and Centers to expand wireless service on campus to anticipate academic and administrative demands as well as evolving usage patterns. For example, select classrooms across campus are being configured for high-density service, which means that AirPennNet will be able to accommodate more devices in a small area. Among these installations are rooms in the Wharton School and the entire Graduate School of Education building, providing robust support for the instructional role of iPads while other wireless devices are in concurrent use. High-density service has also been deployed at locations in the School of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Design. Penn Park, the new urban park along 31st Street from Walnut to South Street, will soon be covered by AirPennNet.

Unlike your local coffee shop with its public WiFi hot spot, Penn has a responsibility to maintain the security of the University’s electronic resources and traffic over the wireless network, which increasingly involves University data and personal data subject to privacy regulations. So AirPennNet employs strong data encryption using the 802.1x standard and requires a PennKey and password to gain access to the network. New members of the community will need to acquire these prior to their first connection to AirPennNet.

Not Connected? Here’s how to Connect to WiFi at Penn

To make it easier to connect securely to AirPennNet with your laptop, iPad, iPhone, or Android device, ISC has introduced AirPennNet-Help. Once you have a PennKey and password, simply connect to the wireless zone called “AirPennNet-Help” and then launch your browser. The web-based wizard that appears in your browser will guide you through the simple steps to configure your device to connect to AirPennNet. Once configured, your device will automatically join the network when in range. You’ll simply need to log in using your PennKey and password. 

If you have questions about using AirPennNet, consult the resources at www.upenn.edu/computing/wireless/ or contact your local support provider (LSP).

—Mike Palladino, Associate Vice President for ISC Networking and Telecommunications

Almanac - September 13, 2011, Volume 58, No. 03