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UNC to make Wi-Fi switch from UNC-1 to UNC-Secure this year

In response to a national move to a more secure Internet environment, the UNC community is planning to alter its wireless service by the end of 2012.

In a meeting with more than 60 members of the Information Technology Services staff, Jim Gogan, director of networking systems, said it will be necessary to change all campus wireless configurations from UNC-1 to the more secure Wi-Fi service, UNC-Secure, this year.

Though the UNC-Secure option has been available since January 2010, the switch will soon be mandatory, and must happen to avoid becoming dependent on an Internet connection that will not be available by the end of 2013.

To make this transition, students, faculty and staff can configure the service through instructions online, or they can have the ITS staff to do it for them.

The effort is not the product of a University decision, but rather a global action mandated by the Wi-Fi Alliance, which regulates Wi-Fi products and policy, Gogan said.

“This will become a priority issue, as important as moving from Blackboard to Sakai, or from Webmail to Heelmail,” Gogan said.

Out of the more than 65,000 users, 70 percent use the UNC-1 wireless connection, and only 10 percent use UNC-Secure. By the end of 2012, Gogan said he hopes everyone will be connected to the new wireless service.

Priscilla Alden, executive director of ITS user support and engagement, said the staff is not intimidated by the challenge.

“We’ve done big projects in the past, so it’s not foreign to us. But if problems may arise, we have the Computer Repair Center, the ITS Response Center and the Carolina Computing Initiative staff that will be available to help all students and faculty with the transition,” Alden said.

“Students today are more technically astute and used to the wireless environment,” she said.

Junior Tiffany Lee said the move will not be an inconvenience, especially if it will help improve the connection and accessibility of wireless.

This effort will not require additional funding from the University, and Gogan said the only thing spent will be time and effort from the staff.

Gogan said he hopes all upcoming freshmen who register devices with ITS will be configured to the new service.

The next step after switching the devices over to the UNC-Secure network will be to improve wireless access points across campus, which will take more time and require additional funding.

“There are about 2,400 wireless access points that cover 30 percent of the campus,” he said.

“When we get students saying, ‘We’re on the 4th floor of Hamilton (Hall) and I have no connection,’ our response is, ‘No kidding!’” he said. “But moving to the UNC-Secure service is our priority now.”

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