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Wireless Networking Use

2.4 and 5.1 GHz Radio Frequencies


Provides guidance to University users on devices that use the 2.4 GHz and 5.1 radio frequencies.

Policy Applies to:

All users of wireless networking and wireless devices at the University.

Policy Statement

The University of Virginia (UVa) has assigned the Department of Information Technology Services (ITS) to implement wireless networking on the University Grounds. Wireless networking will allow UVa users to access University computing facilities from mobile or portable computers. Providing this service also means that a portion of radio airspace on Grounds serves as the transport medium for a part of the UVa network.

Accordingly, certain computing policies now apply to that segment of the radio airspace at the University. This document alerts members of the University community to security issues and to the potential problems that could result from devices using the same radio frequency.

UVa's wireless network uses the FCC unlicensed 2.4 GHz Industrial/Scientific/Medical (ISM) band and the 5.1 GHz Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (UNII) band. Wireless network transmissions within 2.4 GHz band conform to the IEEE 802.11 DSSS (Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum) wireless LAN specification. The transmissions within the 5 GHz band depart from the spread spectrum technology, instead using a frequency division multiplexing scheme.

Other "wireless" devices exist in the market place that also employ the same 2.4 or 5.1 GHz frequency bands and can cause interference to users of the University's wireless network. These devices include, but are not limited to other IEEE 802.11 wireless LAN devices, cordless telephones, cameras, and audio speakers. The recent FCC ruling that modifies the rules that govern the 2.4GHz (Part 15.247) spectrum makes it possible for wireless LAN devices to co-exist with devices using Bluetooth; therefore, the use of Bluetooth devices is permitted.

In order to assure the highest level of service to the users of the University's wireless network, ITS needs help from all members of the University community in minimizing the potential interference from wireless devices. ITS requests that use of all 2.4 and 5.1 GHz devices that it has not approved be discontinued in University-owned buildings. In cases where the device is being used for a specific teaching or research application, ITS will work with faculty to determine whether there are circumstances under which use of the device may still be accommodated without causing interference to University wireless network users.

If you think you have an existing system that may use 2.4 GHz radios for transmission, or if you are planning to purchase a wireless system and you are uncertain if it employs 2.4 GHz radios, please contact the UVa Help Desk at 4-HELP (434-924-4357). ITS can assist in determining if such devices will cause interference to the University wireless network.

Beyond the interference issues, wireless network access equipment that does not conform to the University's technical specifications and configurations may provide unauthorized access to the University network. The owners and overseers of devices that are connected to the University of Virginia network must ensure that key security vulnerabilities are eliminated from these devices and that they are operating in accordance with the policy that defines the requirements for UVa network-connected devices.

To insure that the integrity of the University network is maintained and that incorrectly configured equipment does not cause interference problems, ITS requires that departments and individuals (including students) who wish to install wireless network access devices anywhere on the University network seek permission to do so by completing a request form. For faculty and staff, please complete this form. Departments and individuals who install such equipment without review by ITS may be required to remove it.

Our thanks to Computing Services at Carnegie Mellon University, whose "Guidelines on the Use of the 2.4 GHz Radio Frequency" formed the basis to create this document.

Developed by the University of Virginia Department of Information Technology Services (ITS)

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