Site Accessibility Statement
Wilfrid Laurier University Information and Communication Technologies
April 27, 2017
Canadian Excellence

Wireless at Laurier

Please note that the use of the Laurier wireless network is subject to the University Policy: Principles in the Use of Information Technology.

  • "eduroam" –  is a secure access service for members of the educational and research communities. It allows individuals from a member organization to securely access network services while visiting other member organizations using login credentials from their home organization without making special arrangements.  Click here to get login instructions.

  • laurierwifi – is an unsecure wireless network (unencrypted).   This means that if you use POP/SMTP email or visit web sites that start with HTTP:// then this information is vulnerable to snooping by someone else.  Note: Login to "laurierwifi" is encrypted so your password is safe.

    Any website that has HTTPS:// is a secure site and all information should be encrypted by the website and safe.  For this reason it is recommended that “laurierwifi” is used only for casual web browsing and secure web services such as webmail where you see HTTPS:// in the website address.

    It is also highly recommended that you have up-to-date anti-virus software and a firewall active on your laptop/notebook.  For more information about how to check, please visit our Anti-Virus & Firewall information.

    If you need assistance connecting to “laurierwifi” please check out our Laurierwifi Instructions before contacting Help Desk.
What is Wi-Fi?

WIFI is a wireless local area network (LAN). It functions exactly as a wired LAN but does not require a physical connection to operate. A LAN enables computing devices to interconnect to share information in a limited physical area, like a building. The university seamlessly connects all of the LAN’s together for every building across our campuses and to the world at large.

WIFI operates in two frequency ranges - 2.4 and 5 GHz. Campus computing has the highest density requirements for WIFI that we are aware of, with many students in close physical proximity to one another and often with 2 or more WIFI connected devices. For this reason you need to ensure your devices can operate in both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. (This is discussed in more detail in the frequently asked questions section below.)

Within the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands there are small frequency subsets known as channels. There are 14 channels in the 2.4 GHz range but they overlap. Overlapping creates issues (see the issues topic below) so we use three non-overlapping channels. There are 20 channels in the 5 GHz range and none overlap. Most devices are dual band capable and will automatically seek a channel that has capacity. Each channel can manage 65 connections. This is important to remember where there are a large number of people present and they all have a minimum of 2 connected devices (smartphone and laptop).

How does Wi-Fiwork?

1) You need to be in range. To establish a connection you must be within 35m of a Wireless Access Point (WAP). Beyond that distance the signal is too weak to make and maintain a connection. Walls, windows and doors will attenuate or reduce the signal. For example, because of the construction materials used in Leupold House we needed 5 times the number of WAP’s per student as was needed at 255 King to provide the same level of service.

2) You need to find a network. When you want to make a connection your device (laptop, tablet, smartphone) will seek out and find any networks that are in range. These are known as SSID’s (Service Set Identifier). We use 2 SSID’s at Laurier - Laurierwifi and eduroam. Connecting to eduroam is preferred as it is more secure and we provide a better signal to this SSID across Resnet and campus.

3) You need to get access. Access is restricted for all of our networks (wired and wireless) to authorised people. This prevents people from snooping on your connection and keeps Laurier safe from intruders. All students, faculty and staff are authorised users. When you click on the SSID you want to use you will be prompted to enter your credentials. This is your username that was issued when you first became a student and your password.

4) Laurier places no restrictions on the amount of data you download. However, there are some connections we do not allow. For example, peer to peer networking (e.g. BitTorrent, Limewire) is restricted as these are known vectors for malware.

5) Bandwidth is finite. Each WAP has a maximum amount of data it can pass per unit of time, much like water coming out of a garden hose. If there is only one person connected you get all the bandwidth. As more people join the less there is available per person. Most devices seek a channel that has available capacity but it becomes a problem when all channels are maxed out.

There are things you can do to avoid common issues and help improve your WIFI experience. These are discussed in the FAQ section below.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) What happens when I move from my current location?

When you move out of range your connection will drop.

When you move into range of another WAP you may not be able to connect. This occurs because some devices do not “release” their prior connection and will still try to connect to the previous WAP, even though a connection is no longer possible. 

There are two ways to re-establish your WIFI connection: 
1) Reboot your device. 
2) “Forget” or remove the old network connection. 

Instructions for most devices are at the end of this document.

2) How do people density and limitations with 2.4 GHz frequency impact WIFI?

There is a technical limitation with WIFI at 2.4 GHz frequency. There are 3 non-overlapping channels available for use at 2.4 GHz. Each channel can handle 65 connections and there is a maximum connection amount of 195 devices for a given WAP at this frequency.

Bluetooth, which also operates at 2.4 GHz, uses a crude method of maintaining a connection known as frequency hopping. This negatively impacts the number of available connections as Bluetooth connections will wander around the various WIFI channels and interfere with WIFI signals. As a result, you may experience a slower WIFI connection or your connection may drop altogether. If you are on WIFI it is recommended to shut off Bluetooth.

Phones set as WIFI hotspots further compound the problem of density. Phones with this feature turned on are attempting to establish a WIFI connection and transmit it at cellular frequencies. This interferes with a laptop’s ability to establish a WIFI connection on our network. It is recommended that users shut off WIFI hot spotting when on campus.

How can users help with density and limitation issues? 

It is important to purchase devices that have dual band capability (2.4 and 5 GHz). We are seeing devices this year that have 2.4 GHz connectivity only as companies are “down-speccing” their devices to save costs. This is particularly problematic when you are in an area with many people, most of whom have both a laptop and smartphone connected to WIFI. This may explain why you have good connectivity in Residence but poor connectivity in class and common areas. 

Shut off Bluetooth on your laptop and smartphone when you are on campus. The WIFI signal you will preserve may be your own. 

If your device says it is compatible with 802.11a or 802.11g or 802.11n or 802.11ac then you have a dual band device. We have a separate paper that describes how to check if your device is dual band capable. (This is available here: link to resource.)

4) How do wireless printers and game consoles connect to WIFI?

Wireless printers and game consoles will not connect on our network as we require WPA2 Enterprise security. No consumer grade printers and none of the current game consoles offer this level of security.

5) How can I get my device to “forget” a network connection? 

Windows 8
- Access Settings and then choose the Wireless icon.
- Right-click on the network and choose Forget this Network

Windows 7
- Go to Start > Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center
- Choose Manage Wireless Networks from the options on the left.
- Highlight the network from the list and choose Remove

Mac OS X (10.8)
- Go to System Preferences > Network
- Select Wifi on the left
- Choose the wireless network from the list & then click on the Disconnect button.
- Click on the Advanced button
- Select the wireless network from the list and then click on the (-) button to remove it from the list.
- Click on the Ok button
- Click the Apply button in the Networks 

- Choose Settings WiFi
- When you select eduroam, you will be prompted for the password.
- Choose Cancel and then open the eduroam network (click on the blue arrow).
- Choose Forget this Network
- Choose Forget 

- When trying to connect to eduroam, you are unable to get a connection.
- Go to Settings > Wireless & Networks
- Choose Wifi Settings
- Long press the network named eduroam 
- Choose Forget Network

6) Is WIFI safe?

• WIFI works at 2.4 and 5 GHz bands which are in the microwave band. Your microwave oven operates at exactly 2.4 GHz.

• If a microwave oven can boil water why doesn’t WIFI boil me? Your oven operates at about 1000Watts of power. WIFI operates in the milliwatt range. 1,000 milliwatts equals 1 Watt. So the WIFI signal is in the range of 1 millionth the power of a microwave oven. In fact, “the level (students) are exposed to in school is not all that much different from an FM radio station.” (1)