Wireless FAQs: Technical Issues
- What hardware/software do I need to connect?
- What wireless card should I purchase?
- How fast is the wireless network?
- Why is the wireless connection slower than a wired connection?
- What wireless standards does Wireless support?
- Does the number of users impact on connection speed?
- Will I lose my connection while I am online?
What hardware/software do I need to connect
Hardware: If your laptop does not come with built-in 802.11 wireless capabilities, then you will need a wireless card and an available USB slot.
Software: All you need to access the wireless network is a web browser, for example Internet Explorer.
Drivers: Wireless card driver requirements will vary depending on your operating system and the manufacturer of your laptop/handheld device and/or wireless card. Consult your owner's manuals or your card manufacturer's web site for driver information.
What wireless card should I purchase?
For eduroam any 802.11g or 802.11a/g/n wireless network card is acceptable.
For eduroam, certain software drivers and capabilities are required of the wireless network card. Please refer to the manufacturer and ensure the specifications for the card include :
- WPA2-Enterprise or WPA2-Radius or 802.11i
How fast is the wireless network?
The Cardiff University Wireless Network operates at up to 150Mbps and is a shared access medium.
This means that as more people connect to the access point that you are connected to, the slower the connection will be, as the wireless speed will drop automatically to compensate for the weaker signal.
You must also factor in your distance from the access point and interference from devices such as microwaves and cordless phones, all of which have an effect on your wireless signal.
Encrypted transmission will also affect the speed when using the high security service eduroam.
Why is the wireless connection slower than a wired connection?
There are several reasons why the wireless connection is slower than a wired connection.
Firstly, the technology itself is slower, 11 Mbps (shared) for the wireless versus 10/100 Mbps (dedicated) for most wired connections.
Secondly, wireless uses bandwidth limitation to provide a fair level of service to all users, else it would be possible for a single user to sit very close to an access point and "hog" all the bandwidth.
Thirdly, the amount of bandwidth you get is somewhat determined by how strong and "clean" your signal is, so even though the Wireless Team has made every effort to provide clear strong signals in marked coverage areas, there still remains the possibility of outside interference such as microwaves and cordless phones which can drastically affect bandwidth on 802.11g.
What wireless standards does Wireless support?
Wireless connectivity at Cardiff University is based on the 802.11 standard which means it will support 802.11a/g/n clients only. We no longer support 802.11b.
There is currently no planned support for any other wireless standards such as Bluetooth (802.15), WiMax, 802.16 and 802.20.
Does the number of users impact on connection speed?
Yes. All users within a wireless area share the available bandwidth between them. More users dilute the available speed.
Will I lose my connection while I am online?
Possibly, if you are on the edge of a wireless coverage area. Move closer to the where you see the wireless signs (below). Please note that some buildings have limited coverage, by design, to avoid disturbing people in nearby areas.