The department of information services and technology launched a new “AirBears2” wireless network Monday in order to upgrade the wireless user experience on campus.
AirBears2 will make wireless use more secure by encrypting all data traffic passing through its server. The new network also aims to make it easier for users to connect by no longer requiring repeated user logins after initial authentication.
Additionally, AirBears2 will be available throughout the entire campus, except in the residence halls and in locations where the department of electrical engineering and computer sciences manages wireless access.
“Anybody coming by campus with the right equipment could basically grab copies of (data) traffic on the old AirBears network,” said Isaac Orr, manager of network operations and services at IST. “That is not the case with AirBears2.”
In addition to increased security, the new network will make it easier for users to connect to the network through multiple devices by allowing the user-generated key to be shared.
During the first use, each user will generate a unique electronic key. This user-generated key can then be shared across multiple devices, allowing synchronized connectivity to the Internet on computers, cellphones and tablets.
According to Michael Green, campus director of telecommunications, AirBears2 will not be offered on Monday in the residence halls because of issues with bandwidth allotment and increased legal protections that are needed when offering Wi-Fi in living quarters. Green said he is optimistic about the university offering a single wireless network across the whole campus.
For the past two years, UC Berkeley has been partnering with AT&T to try to improve network connectivity by adding more Wi-Fi hotspots. With AirBears2 and the Wi-Fi expansion, IST representatives said students should experience better performance when the system is under high usage.
“We are online all the time, and the Internet is just something that is integrated into our education,” said UC Berkeley senior Dasha Burns. “It’s great to see the university taking the initiative on something that is our everyday experience at Cal.”
AirBears will still be available to the campus community and guest users, but IST representatives encourage all students, faculty and staff to use AirBears2.
Contact Chase Schweitzer at [email protected]