Starting in the fall, choosing which wireless network to connect to will be simpler. Information and Technology Services has announced that they will be disbanding the UM Wireless Network — curbing the options for networks to MWireless and MGuest.
According to the ITS website, MWireless provides University affiliates with greater security when connecting to the wireless network, as compared to other networks. MWireless encrypts all data transmitted between the wireless device and the Access Point, whereas UM Wireless encrypts only the uniqname and password entered during login.
Andy Palms, ITS executive director of communication systems and data centers, said the high encryption standards of MWireless are important to students, as the old network allowed hackers to access all information transmitted wirelessly apart from the password.
Although MWireless was implemented in 2008 in accordance with the latest security standards at that time, ITS decided to retain the dated UM Wireless Network for nearly five years.
Palms said he understands that University affiliates were accustomed to authenticating to the network via the UM Wireless network splash page and that the additional time required to initially set up MWireless discouraged users from transitioning to the new technology.
“The downside of MWireless is that it is just not what people are used to,” he said.
However, after initial authentication, MWireless automatically connects wireless devices to the network when in a University Wi-Fi hotspot — eliminating the need to periodically input uniqname and password.
To promote MWireless, ITS began an advertisement campaign that included displaying informative posters throughout campus. Furthermore, the UM Wireless Network splash page and the ITS webpage encouraged users to switch over to the new network as their default choice.
“I think it’s been up in front of people for quite a while,” Palms said. “We’re really trying to encourage people to (use) MWireless.”
The reason for choosing to disband the dated network now was twofold, Palms said. Firstly, he said ITS wanted to provide users to with a “transition period” to adjust to new technologies. Although the exact number of users remains unclear, Palms said he believed that roughly 60 to 70 percent of University affiliates used MWireless as their primary network.
Additionally, the transition allowed ITS to prepare its systems for the introduction of Eduroam — a worldwide network access implemented to facilitate educational interaction among institutions. By choosing to retire the UM Wireless Network, additional network capacity could be allocated to Eduroam.
Eduroam will likely be introduced by October 2013, Palms said.
Currently, the MGuest network serves as an alternative for wireless users without a uniqname and Kerberos password. Palms said the purpose of each authentication method became more confusing with the number of networks that remained available.
“There’s no particular need that the UM Wireless meets for people anymore that can’t be met by (MWireless and MGuest),” he said.