WIA: Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I purchase a wireless LAN adapter and how much does it cost?

Most laptops now come with a wireless adapter built-in; however, you can purchase a wireless network adapter (or wireless LAN card) from any local computer shop or online from an Internet website. Prices start from as little as £5.

How do I sign up?

Please follow the instructions on the WIA page to sign in.

Where is the wireless network available?

The wireless internet access service is available in teaching areas, and in all University accommodation.

What level of technical support is provided for WIA?

As outlined in the Terms of Use, section 1.2 and 1.3; IT Services’ support for the WIA service is limited to running the WIA network itself. Users who require a managed, supported service are advised to use the University’s computer rooms; WIA is aimed at users with prior experience of configuring their laptop for secure wireless networking and the technical know-how to troubleshoot connectivity issues.

How fast is the wireless network?

The wireless network runs at 11 Mbps or 54 Mbps depending on the type of wireless adapter you use.  Other factors, listed in the section below, will also affect the speed of your connection.

What factors will affect the speed / reliability of my wireless connection?

The wireless network uses radio waves to link your laptop to the nearest access point; anything which interferes with this signal can affect the speed and reliability of your connection. For example:

  • Obstacles (e.g. walls) between you and the access point
  • Metallic/magnetic objects near your wireless network adapter
  • Your proximity to the access point

The WIA network is shared between all users.  If one person is downloading a large file this will affect the connection speed for others.  For this reason, it is good manners not to download large files during busy periods.

The WIA “Sign up steps” and Terms give the minimum steps I have to take to secure my laptop. What else can I do to protect my devices?

The next step we would recommend is the use of a firewall.  This monitors your network connections and allows you to choose whether to allow them.  For ease of use most personal firewall packages come with sensible default settings and the ability to learn your responses – so you aren’t constantly prompted.

There are free firewall products available for users without a built-in firewall, such as those bundled with Windows and Mac OS.
You can find several examples at http://www.snapfiles.com/Freeware/security/fwfirewall.html.  (This link is provided for users’ convenience only, the University of Buckingham has no connection with the organisation carrying out the review nor the companies or products mentioned in the review and makes no representation or warranty as to the fitness for purpose of those products).