Information Systems has recently rolled out wireless access to MITnet in the libraries, most classrooms and many public places on campus.
Introduction of this service (based on the 802.11b standard and built on the dynamic host configuration protocol, or DHCP) was prompted by academic initiatives from the Council for Educational Technology and in response to rising demand from the MIT community, as well as the increasing availability of the technology in the world at large.
If you are an MIT student, faculty member or staff member with an MIT ID number and a computer with an assigned MIT host name, you are eligible to register your laptop for wireless MITnet access.
Chartered in August 2000, the wireless project is funded for four years by the Provost's Office, with additional support from Lucent Technologies (now Avaya Communication). The goal for the first year was to provide coverage in the libraries, classrooms and some common spaces, and to offer a support plan for wireless networking at MIT.
As of June 30, there were more than 200 Lucent access points in service across campus. To find out where wireless service is available, see the MIT Wireless Network Coverage page.
The project team has also proposed enterprise-wide guidelines by which departments, labs and centers can set up wireless networks that do not conflict with the campus wireless network or each other. See the team's web site for the proposed guidelines and an overview of MITnet wireless service.
To set up your laptop, you need a built-in Ethernet card and a wireless network card. You also need a static IP address and MIT certificates, and you must be registered for DHCP service. Those without a static IP address--for example, students--can bring their laptops to the walk-in area of the Computing Help Desk in Building N42 to register for the service.
For links on how to set up everything, from getting an IP address and certificates to registering for DHCP and wireless access, see the Mobile Computing@MIT page.
On Intel-based laptops with a free PC card slot, IS recommends the ORiNOCO PC Card/Silver. This card provides drivers for Windows 98, Windows NT and Windows 2000. Other cards based on the 802.11b standard will probably work, but IS doesn't support them.
Apple portable computers with built-in AirPort cards need no other card. If you have an Apple portable with AirPort capability but no card, you can buy and install the Apple AirPort card. Apple portables that are not AirPort-capable but have an available PC card slot can use the ORiNOCO PC Card/Silver.
You can buy these wireless cards from NECX.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on August 29, 2001.