We’ve Got You Covered!
We’ve got you covered (wirelessly, that is)! The long-anticipated campus-wide wireless coverage has finally arrived! Cal Maritime’s IT Department has been busy deploying Aruba wireless access points (known as APs) in buildings throughout the campus over the past eight months.
At present, there are 107 APs in operation on campus. By the end of this coming summer, another 50 APs will be deployed. These APs provide 33 Megabit throughput in most of the buildings on campus, including the Classroom Building, Faculty Building, Admin Building, Library, Lab Building, Technology Center, Simulation Center, Boat House, Leadership/Marine Programs/Naval Science, Student Center, Career Center, Extended Learning and all of the residence halls. Although it was not by design, coverage also extends outside of various buildings for short distances.
The most recent installations were made in the Upper and Lower residence halls near the end of last semester (the new McAllister residence hall already had wireless APs installed before it opened it’s doors last fall). The type of wall used in building construction can interfere with the wireless signal. Because of the Upper and Lower Residence Hall buildings’ construction consisting of cement walls, users may have somewhat slower access in these buildings (estimated at 11 Megabit throughput).
According to Steve Frazier, Chief Information Officer, the new wireless service is provided free of any usage charge and available to all students, faculty and staff using computers and devices that are compatible with the 802.11 (a, b, g or n) wireless standard. “The majority of new laptops and handheld devices now come with this capability already built-in,” he said. These include laptops, web-enabled smartphones (such as the iPhone), iPads, gaming devices, wireless printers, etc. “This new wireless network greatly extends access to the LAN without adding additional hard-wired ports,” he said.
To use the campus’s new wireless system, you must logon to a domain (students logon to the “Academic” domain whereas faculty and staff use the “Maritime” domain). Gone are the days when you could access one of a few APs on campus that did not require authentication (with exception of those on the ship). According to Jannette Corpus, Director of IT, this helps to improve network security.
Two networks (“cma” and “cma-wpa2”) are available for wireless access on campus. Walter Abarca, the IT Department’s network analyst, recommends that smart phone users connect to the “cma-wpa2” network. “Laptop users can use either one,” he said. Both are encrypted but the “cma-wpa2” provides an additional layer of security. Both of these require you to logon using your campus credentials (username and password). Whereas the “cma” wireless network uses a web-based login and it will time out, the “cma-wpa2” network will permit you to reconnect without logging back in again. The “cma” wireless network does not require any configuration on your personal device (laptop, smartphone, etc.) but older model laptops may require configuration with “cma-wpa2.”
Mr. Abarca said, “You should be able to see these network names by opening the wireless network browser on your computer, just as if you were connecting to a wireless network at home or in places such as airports or coffee shops.” To connect, you will need to logon using your campus credentials (the same username and password that you use to logon into Cal Maritime’s email system). Your username should be preceded by the domain name. For example, students would logon using academic\username (the word “academic” and your username must be separated by a backslash).
Ms. Corpus noted that non-campus members might also need access. She said, “Because the Aruba wireless network requires users to authenticate, guests visiting the campus will not be able to access the wireless system unless they have been granted the proper credentials.” She encourages departments and clubs that need access for their guests to contact the IT Department’s Help Desk prior to their anticipated arrival to obtain temporary guest accounts.
In many cases, you will be able to walk with your notebook or other wireless device from within the range of one wireless AP to a neighboring one without loosing connection and without needing to log back into the domain again. Raul Lucky, the Network Operations Center Manager, said “Cal Maritime’s deployment of the Aruba APs combined with the “Centralized Multiservice Mobility Controllers” in our Data Center lets users remain connected to the network without having to re-authenticate as they move between APs.” “By themselves,” he said, “these special wireless APs are inoperable. Unlike traditional wireless APs or routers, they cannot be used elsewhere. They have to communicate with one of the controllers in the Data Center."
The IT Department has already received positive responses concerning the new wireless network. Mr. Frazier noted that the Aruba WLAN is a secure, scalable and reliable enhancement to Cal Maritime’s wired network. Many people were involved in making it possible. The CSU system as a whole has spearheaded the Infrastructure Terminal Resources Project (ITRP), which is establishing a baseline infrastructure for technology on all the campuses. In addition, Cal Maritime’s Auxiliary Services and staff in the IT Department have been heavily involved. In particular, Mr. Frazier acknowledged the tireless efforts of Walter Abarca, the IT Department’s network analyst. “Walter helped make this possible by spending untold hours on conference calls with the Chancellor’s Office team, with AT&T field engineers, and crawling through building ceilings deploying the controllers and APs… and then working the kinks out!” he said.
Questions and problems regarding connecting to the wireless infrastructure should be directed to Cal Maritime’s IT Help Desk. Also please visit the Wireless FAQs.