SaxaNet problems, expansion

September 22, 2011

The University Information Systems set up a new wireless network, SaxaNet, in 18 University buildings to address the lack of wireless connectivity on Georgetown’s campus, but a number of students have had trouble connecting to the network at all. UIS is also looking to expand wireless coverage to areas on campus that are not currently provided wireless access.

Prior to SaxaNet’s installation in July and August, most campus residences did not have access to wi-fi, and the existing campus network was unsecured. According to Beth Ann Bergsmark, senior director of UIS, security was the biggest priority with the installation of SaxaNet. Unlike HOYAS, the network requires a Georgetown NetID and password for access, and ensures the data that users send and receive is encrypted (and therefore difficult to intercept or steal).

Though it was billed as a universal, campus-wide network, SaxaNet is not the only wireless network on campus. The HOYAS network is still used in New South Hall and the Southwest Quadrangle. All of the other buildings on campus, including Walsh and the Car Barn, have full access to SaxaNet, as well as GuestNet, which provides login-free (and unencrypted) internet access to users without NetIDs.

UIS is looking to expand SaxaNet into those buildings that currently are not covered and get all of the campus on one unified network. They are also looking into expanding wireless coverage into several of the campus’s major outdoor spaces, such as Healy and Copley Lawns.

There was confusion involved in setting up individual devices to operate on the network when students returned to school. Over New Student Orientation weekend, the UIS Help Desk had to assist several hundred students in connecting to the wireless networks. In the last week, UIS still received 50 service calls related to SaxaNet.

The issues primarily revolved around software called CloudPath, which would automatically perform the necessary configurations on devices to connect to the network, Bergsmark wrote in an email. The software was released prior to the release of the “Lion” update to Mac OS X, which led to configuration problems for users with up-to-date Apple computers. Bergsmark also said that some Lenovo products had two wireless controls installed, which made for connecting issues.

“The introduction of SaxaNet was a significant change for our community,” Bergsmark wrote. “Any change brings both benefits and a period of adjustment. Setting your computer up for secure wireless can take several steps and the steps are different for different platforms and operating systems.”

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