University of Rhode Island 2.4GHz and 5.0 GHz Radio Spectrum Policy

 

ORIGINATOR: Vice Provost for Information Services

 

DATE: October 2003

 

POLICY #03-1

 

Overview:

Network and Telecommunications Services (NETS), a department within the Office of Information Systems (OIS), is implementing a wireless network throughout all URI campuses. A wireless network pilot is currently underway in the Kingston campus library. There are plans to make wireless access available throughout URI in the next 12-24 months.

Wireless networks allow its users to roam through campus, both indoors and outdoors, with laptop computers, wireless personal digital assistances, data collection devices, etc. They enable laptop users to collaborate in more comfortable and productive environments without a tethered network connection. Wireless also enables users to stay connected to network resources such as calendars, email and web based services while on campus but away from their office or classroom.

Wireless networks however do pose a security challenge and are subject to interference from other wireless devices. In order to ensure the highest level of wireless network security and service to URI network users, Network and Telecommunications Services needs cooperation from all members of the URI community to minimize interference from other devices that use the same frequency range as the wireless network.

Background:

The URI wireless network uses the unlicensed FCC 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. Telecommunications transmission within these frequencies conforms to the IEEE 802.11 DSSS (Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum) and OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) wireless LAN specifications. This technology is commonly known as 802.11a/b/g. Other wireless devices new to the marketplace and currently in development can create interference for the campus wireless network. These devices include, but are not limited to, some cordless telephones, wireless video transmitters, some wireless audio speakers, Bluetooth enable devices and similar IEEE 802.11 wireless LAN devices that have not been installed by NETS. Examples would be wireless access points from Apple (AirPort), Dell, Linksys, and others.

URI's wireless network could be compromised in operation and security if appropriate cautionary measures are not taken. Problems can result from individuals and departments deploying electronics across campus that use the same radio frequencies. Wireless access points that have not been installed by NETS pose the most serious threat. In addition to any interference they might cause with institutionally supported network access points, they can compromise network security and the confidentiality of any data transmitted.

Policy:

The University of Rhode Island reserves the right to restrict the use of all 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz radio devices in university-owned buildings and all outdoor spaces on university property. As new wireless communications technologies emerge, additional frequencies may be appended to this policy. Network and Telecommunication Services is assigned the responsibility to manage said frequencies in all locations, and, is authorized to order any individual or entity on any URI campus that operates a wireless device that interferes with the integrity of any other wireless service, to cease operations immediately.

If you think you have a device that may use the 2.4 or 5 GHz frequencies for transmission or you are planning to purchase a wireless device and you are uncertain if it employs 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz radios, please contact the helpdesk at extension 44357. Barring potential incidents where installed access points are causing interference or compromising the security of URI's wireless network, NETS will not ask owners of access points that have already been deployed to turn those access points off, until NETS can replace the existing wireless coverage with secure, university authorized, wireless network access. In cases where the device is being used for a specific application, NETS will work with the respective users to determine whether there are circumstances under which use of the device may be accommodated without causing interference to URI wireless users. Your cooperation and assistance in complying with this policy is needed and appreciated.