Campus network expands access to student, staff guests

Matt Harlan, The Daily Illini

Matt Harlan, The Daily Illini

By Meghan O'Kelly

Guests of students, faculty and staff no longer have to part with their Internet access when they come to campus.

CITES has expanded its guest account service, and anyone with an Illinois Network ID and Bluestem password can now sponsor guests to connect to any of the four major campus network services.

Each sponsor can activate up to two guest accounts at once, which strictly provide internet connectivity- – not an e-mail address or NetFiles access. The accounts extend from the time they are created until midnight on the third day and can be deactivated by the campus sponsor prior to their expiration.

The fastest and easiest way for a registered guest to connect is to open a Web browser window and log on to UIUCnet Quick Connect. The system is accessible through either an Ethernet connection or a Wi-Fi-enabled computer where UIUCnet wireless service is available.

Mike Smeltzer, CITES director of network communications, said the service will become more useful as CITES continues to expand the UIUCnet wireless access on campus. Smeltzer said CITES is working on a five-year plan that will provide wireless access to the whole campus by the end of 2009.

“Expanding guest account services represents a change in philosophy in terms of embracing the community,” Smeltzer said. “We’re assuming people have matured in terms of their Internet use and will be responsible.”

In the past, a guest account could only be activated by campus units. Smeltzer explained that CITES has been able to expand its guest account services because of the falling cost of Internet bandwidth and new technology that has eased constraints regarding the number of people using the system.

“We pay a fair amount of money to various companies each month to provide connectivity to the campus,” he said. “We’re buying enough now to offer our visitors Internet access on campus.”

Debbie Fligor, service manager for the UIUCnet wireless system, said that many visitors in the past were logging on to the Internet using their host’s Network ID and Bluestem password, which is against the UIUC Appropriate Use Policy. Now, guests themselves must agree to the policy, which is available as a printable document along with the assigned temporary Network ID and password when the account is created.

“If someone does something bad, the right person gets in trouble for it,” she said, adding that an additional benefit of guest account services is that both the guest and the campus host can be connected to the Internet at the same time.

University departments can create additional accounts spanning a longer amount of time for department-sponsored guests or events, including guest lecturers or conferences. Students with guests staying longer than three days can create sequential accounts for their guests after the third day, Smeltzer said.

The access to the campus network differs from other Wi-Fi networks because of the higher quality of the Internet connection. The fact that guest accounts require registration increases user accountability as opposed to most public Wi-Fi networks, which do not require registration, Smeltzer said.

“We assume if people are going to do bad things, they’ll do them in a public place,” he said. “We want people to be accountable at some level.”