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Using wireless at Penn

Wireless access at Penn consists of the main AirPennNet network, AirPennNet-Help (a network to assist connection to AirPennNet), AirPennNet-Guest (for visitors to Penn), and AirPennNet-Device, a specialized network for devices that cannot use AirPennNet. Additionally, Penn is a participant in the eduroam network.

Overview

AirPennNet

AirPennNet is the University’s campus-wide wireless network permitting secure and convenient network access in campus buildings and residence halls. AirPennNet offers secure access to PennNet (the University's data network), encrypting user data over the wireless airwaves. AirPennNet is available in most but not all campus buildings.

To connect your device to AirPennNet for the first time, you first need to connect to AirPennNet-Help. Click the Getting connected tab for detailed instructions.

AirPennNet-Help

AirPennNet-Help is a wireless network which delivers a wizard called JoinNow to assist University of Pennsylvania students, faculty, staff, and guests with a PennKey to configure and connect their devices to AirPennNet. AirPennNet-Help is located in the same coverage areas where AirPennNet is found, including residence halls.

Click the Getting connected tab for instructions on how to connect your device to AirPennNet.

AirPennNet-Guest

AirPennNet-Guest is a wireless network with limited bandwidth and no encryption, which is set up for use by visitors to Penn. Registration of devices on AirPennNet-Guest must be renewed daily. AirPennNet-Guest is located in the same coverage areas where AirPennNet is found.

AirPennNet-Device

AirPennNet-Device is a wireless network designed for devices that cannot connect to AirPennNet. It is meant for devices such as Kindles, Nooks, gaming consoles, and more.

To use the Device network, you will need to register the MAC address of your device on the AirPennNet-Device portal. Up to five devices can be registered by an individual. For assistance finding your device’s MAC address, please consult your Local Support Provider (LSP). If you are unsure who to contact, please see the Who is My LSP? page for information on how to contact your school or center’s LSP.

Group management access can be created for schools and centers that need to register devices not owned by an individual. Groups should be used to manage devices not associated to an individual such as control or monitoring devices and pools of loaner laptops or tablets. Please contact your Local Support Provider (LSP) to request the creation of a group.

eduroam

eduroam is a secured wireless network that allows students, faculty and staff to use their home institution's credentials (for Penn affiliates, their PennKey) to access wireless network services, when visiting other eduroam participating institutions without having to set up a guest account. eduroam can be found in all locations where AirPennNet service is available.

Visitors to Penn from other institutions that participate in eduroam should obtain configuration instructions and installation software from their home institution.

Configuring eduroam

Penn affiliates who wish to configure eduroam on their wireless devices can download an installation wizard from:

Using eduroam at other participating institutions

First ensure your device is configured properly on Penn's eduroam network. At a participating eduroam institution, connect to the eduroam network.

A list of other participating institutions can be found on the eduroam website:

Getting connected
 

Automatic configuration through AirPennNet-Help

AirPennNet-Help is a wireless network which delivers a wizard called JoinNow to assist University of Pennsylvania students, faculty, staff, and guests with a PennKey to configure and connect their devices to AirPennNet. When in a campus wireless zone:

  1. Connect to the wireless network: AirPennNet-Help.
  2. Open a web browser and navigate to: www.upenn.edu
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to configure your device to connect to AirPennNet.

Which devices can be configured automatically using AirPennNet-Help?

  • Android devices running version 4.0 or newer
  • Apple iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)
  • macOS El Capitan, Sierra, and High Sierra, and Mojave
  • Microsoft Windows 7, 8, and 10
  • Some Linux builds

Which devices can be configured manually to connect to AirPennNet?

While not a complete list, many individuals at Penn have been able to manually configure the devices listed below:

  • Blackberry 10
  • Most versions of Linux and Unix

Your Local Support Provider or ITA should be able to assist you in configuring these devices.

What are the settings needed to connect to AirPennNet if I configure my device manually?

Wireless Network Name (SSID) : AirPennNet

Security Type : WPA2-Enterprise

Encryption Type : AES

EAP Method : TTLS

Phase 2 (Inner Method) : PAP

Root CA Certificate(s) : Can use system default certificates on device, when available

Domain : Blank

  • Some devices may require a domain, in which case use "upenn.edu"

Anonymous Identity (Outer Identity) : Leave blank

Username (Identity) : your PennKey username

Password : your PennKey password

Your Local Support Provider or ITA should be able to assist you in configuring these devices.

What about other types of devices?

Your Local Support Provider (LSP) may be able to assist Faculty and Staff with getting shared devices as Internet of Things (IOT) or Operational Technology devices connected to AirPennNet securely using EAP-TLS, an alternative authentication method that uses certificates generated by authorized individuals to allow these devices on the network.

Additional information on these devices can be found here: http://www.upenn.edu/computing/wireless/iot.html.

Registering and connecting to AirPennNet-Device
 
For individual users:

You will need to register the MAC address of your device on the Device Portal before connecting it to the AirPennNet-Device wireless network. You can access the Device Portal from any web browser. The Device Portal can be used to register up to five devices, and you will be asked for the MAC address and a brief description of each. Registrations are valid for four years from the initial date of registration. You can add, delete, or renew your device registrations through the Device Portal.

For assistance finding your device’s MAC address, please consult your Local Support Provider (LSP). If you are unsure who to contact, please see the Who is My LSP? page for information on how to contact your school or center’s LSP.

Please note that the AirPennNet-Device wireless network requires the use of a Pre-shared Key (PSK) which is referred to by some devices as a password. The PSK can be found in the lower left-hand corner of the Device Portal. The same PSK will need to be used with each device connecting to AirPennNet-Device. ISC asks that you refrain from posting this PSK on any open forums or web pages.

The AirPennNet-Device network is meant only for devices such as Kindles, Nooks, gaming consoles, and other devices unable to authenticate to AirPennNet. Computers and most smartphones will not work on AirPennNet-Device even if registered, and will be directed to a web page with directions to configure your device to use AirPennNet instead.

Please see Connectivity options in Penn's residences for a list of devices expected to be registered through the Device Portal.

For group management of devices:

Group management access can be created for schools and centers that need to register devices not owned by an individual. These such devices are those not associated to an individual, such as control or monitoring devices, or pools of loaner devices. Your Local Support Provider (LSP) will be able to register group devices for you. LSPs can see our AirPennNet-Device Group Management page for further information.

Using wireless: tips and tricks

Getting a better signal

Users who already have their computing devices configured correctly and have been using AirPennNet may still occasionally encounter problems. AirPennNet operates using radio waves, which can sometimes be blocked by building infrastructure or the use of other electronic equipment. To get a better signal, try these tips first.

Reposition your wireless device

  • Physically rotate your device to face different directions.
  • Try moving your device to another part of the room.

Stay away from items that can impede or interfere with wireless signals

  • Microwave ovens, when they are in use
  • Cordless phones and other wireless electronic equipment
  • Large metal objects (refrigerators, mirrors, AC/heating units, etc.)
  • Unauthorized personal wireless access points

Keep in mind that interference, like the wireless signal itself, can come from other rooms, floors, or buildings nearby.

Troubleshooting checklist

If the tips above don't work, try these troubleshooting suggestions.

  • Make sure your wireless is enabled (turned on).
  • Make sure your computer is properly configured for wireless access.
  • Avoid using AirPennNet-Guest. Use AirPennNet-Help to configure your device for AirPennNet. AirPennNet provides considerably more security and bandwidth to its users.
  • Make sure your operating system and wireless driver are up to date.
  • If you have access to another wireless device, test to see whether it works in this area. 
    If the second device works, the problem may be with your device. Contact your support provider for assistance.
  • Move to another location and try again.
  • Disable (turn off) your wireless for at least ten seconds, and then re-enable it.
  • Release, and then renew, the IP address.

Common wireless problems and some of their sources

Wireless signal drops off

There will be times when users can expect some kind of interference and signal drop off for wireless service. This is because the radio band that AirPennNet uses is unlicensed (by the FCC), thus other devices can operate and share communications on the same radio frequency. Examples of such devices are cordless phones, microwaves, and devices utilizing Bluetooth. Non-AirPennNet wireless Access Points (APs) will interfere with AirPennNet service as well.

Things you can do to try to alleviate this problem:

  • Change the direction in which your wireless device is facing.
  • Move a couple of feet in another direction.
  • If you or your roommate(s) have a cordless phone or other device that may interfere with your wireless connection, experiment with moving that device to another location in your room.
  • If you or your neighbor are using a privately owned wireless AP, it should be powered off. 
    (University wireless policy prohibits the use of private Access Points in areas where AirPennNet is in operation.)

AirPennNet tips: reporting a problem

If you continue to have trouble accessing wireless after using the troubleshooting techniques in the tips section, please report the problem to your support provider. Provide as much information as possible. Simply sharing the time of day you had trouble accessing the service along with the specifics of your location and the type of wireless device you are using will allow the support staff to look at service logs that may have recorded information regarding your connectivity trouble. By sending as much detail as possible, you are helping improve this service so your access will be more readily available the next time you want to use it. The following information is particularly helpful.

  • Specific date, time, and location of your issue 
        (for example, "Monday, January 19th at 8:24pm, SW portion of Bodek Lounge in Houston Hall, next to corner pillar.")
  • A description of what steps you took to verify the problem 
        (including whether this device has used AirPennNet successfully in the past)
  • Your device's operating system, including version number 
        ("Windows 7, Service Pack 1," "Mac OS 10.11.3,", etc.)
  • The wireless IP address assigned to your device, if known
  • Your device's wireless MAC address, if known
  • Your PennKey and your contact information (email, phone)

Additional information

Support providers will also appreciate answers to these questions:

  • Does your device work in other locations? If so, where?
  • Do other devices work in the area in which yours has problems?

 

Frequently asked questions

A wired network connection will always be more stable than a wireless one. Generally speaking, wired connections offer more bandwidth (or speed) per user while wireless networks offer the convenience of mobility.

AirPennNet is monitored by Information Systems and Enterprise Command Center (ECC). Trouble reports are responded to Monday through Friday between 6:00am and 11:00pm.

AirPennNet does not have 100% coverage in all campus areas. If you have a problem connecting to AirPennNet, contact your support provider.

Several resources are available if you are having a difficult time establishing your connection to AirPennNet.

  1. You can read through the Wireless Tips and Tricks section of this page to try to resolve the problem yourself.
  2. You can contact your support provider for additional assistance.

The University supports automated configuration utilizing AirPennNet-Help of devices running:

  1. Windows operating system
  2. macOS operating system
  3. iOS operating system
  4. Android operating system

Other devices may be capable of connecting to AirPennNet if:

  1. EAP-TTLS PAP 802.1X authentication is supported
  2. The device can associate to the network at at least 11 Mb per second.
  3. They are capable of supporting alternative standards found here: http://www.upenn.edu/computing/wireless/iot.html

Check with your support provider if you require further assistance.

The casual wireless user does not have the technical knowledge or capability to intercept wireless communications. Additionally, AirPennNet uses WPA2-AES to encrypt data between your wireless device and the AirPennNet wireless access point. The use of protocols such as SSL or SSH encrypt data between client and server.  Their use provides an encrypted connection across both the wireless and wired networks, from your device to your destination server. When you connect to well-run web sites with secure connections (https:// in the web address), you have reasonable assurances that your connection is encrypted with SSL.

However, since wireless connections are more vulnerable to malicious interventions than wired connections, be mindful of sensitive information you could transmit while using a wireless connection. If you visit web sites that require a login name and password or credit card information, be aware that the potential exists for sensitive information to be intercepted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How wireless works at Penn

Penn's data network

PennNet, the University’s high speed IP data network, operated by ISC Technology Services, provides users with network communication connectivity. Computers and other devices are connected by cables to wires behind wall plates that carry data from building networks to Penn's high capacity fiber-based routing core which provides access to applications both on Penn’s campus and outside PennNet via the Internet or Internet2.

Connecting wirelessly

ISC Technology Services operates the wireless network which provies AirPennNet, the preferred campus-wide wireless network. ISC TS works with schools, centers, and departments ensure proper coverage of the university's SSIDs across campus. Wireless networks are made up of one or many Access Points (APs) which provide radio frequency signals to wireless devices (like your laptop or hand held unit). Each AP used by Penn’s AirPennNet can provide wireless service to up to 50 users.

Penn's wireless topology