A new campus wireless network at Kiwi
technical college Otago Polytechnic is facing its first real test
as this year's influx of students
turn on their laptops.
"This year is the real live test for it," said Otago network
engineer Nathan Gordon last week, as he outlined implementation
challenges to a Sydney conference.
The college's wireless network -- which went live late last
year -- is composed of 28 ORiNOCO AP-4000 access points from
network vendor Proxim, deployed around Otago's main campus in
"We haven't yet looked at the smaller sites, but we have
started deploying a fixed wireless solution in some of our
satellite sites, where we've got full-term leases on buildings,"
Gordon told the conference.
Altogether, Otago has some 14,000 students and around 1,300
Those students receive basic Internet and Web portal access
through the wireless service, with Otago's staff able to access
the full range of network services. The college uses a virtual local area network (VLAN) to separate the
two types of users.
For authentication, vendor Funk Software's Radius server and
Odyssey clients are used, with close integration into the
college's existing Novell eDirectory implementation. Funk is now
owned by Juniper Networks.
"We found a lot of products relied on [Microsoft] Active
Directory," said Gordon. "We don't have Active Directory, so we
needed to make sure the solution we chose didn't require it."
Proxim's hardware was chosen due to reasons of compatibility,
performance and industry recommendations, according to
"We wanted a standards-based solution," he said. "There's
nothing wrong with using proprietary technologies, but in our
environment, we don't have the testing environment or the time to
go through the extra work to make sure such a solution is
available or suitable."
The network uses Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and Temporal Key
Integrity Protocol (TKIP) technologies for authentication and
Future wireless initiatives planned by Otago include investigating
increased security, mesh networking and a concrete
wireless access policy.
Too much time on their hands
Staying one step ahead of
overly-enthusiastic students is one challenge faced by Otago's IT
"We found that campus users always push the boundaries, and
given that we teach IT, we also teach security and hacking," said
Gordon, to audience laughter.
"If they find a way to break it, they definitely will."
In addition, Otago didn't want the network to be abused by
surrounding residences. "The main campus is located within a city block,"
said Gordon. "Directly across the road on all four streets are
"We didn't want to provide wireless coverage on the campus and
then have the users go home and give access to their