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Eduroam: A Secure Global Internet Connection

 A map of US institutions offering eduroam in every state, even Alaska and Hawaii which are not pictured. (Credit eduroam.us)Whether studying abroad, presenting at conferences, or visiting friends and colleagues in different places, members of the William & Mary community can be found across the U.S. and the world. Regardless of where W&M people are, access to wireless Internet service is an important concern. But oftentimes, the process of obtaining access to WiFi involves repeated guest logins, passwords requests, and other hassles.

“When I was studying in Australia, I had to sign in as a guest every day and each time I had to ask my mentor for a password. I’m also a member of the W&M Rowing Club. The team travels a lot and without Wi-Fi it can be hard to work on homework as we travel to different schools,” said Erin Biesecker, a recent graduate of W&M.

The routine of asking for wireless access may seem like a necessary burden on both the user and provider, but ever wonder what it’s like to go somewhere new and not ask for the internet password?

An exciting solution is eduroam. Eduroam is a fast and secure global roaming service which enables access to wireless Internet service at participating institutions for researchers, students, and staff of the W&M community. Found in over 60 different countries/territories, eduroam is available at over 12,000 locations around the world. Within the U.S., eduroam is used by over 450 colleges, universities, and research institutions. Similarly, people visiting W&M who use eduroam at their home institution are able to access
W&M’s secure wireless network.Map of the 101 countries with roaming eduroam operators (in dark blue) as well as 18 countries with pilot programs (in light blue). (Credit eduroam.us)

Currently, eduroam is available everywhere on campus facilities and has about 1500 W&M users.

For example, Sports Information Director for W&M Athletics Kris Sears states: “My office travels a lot with the athletic teams. On these trips, it’s important for us to be able to connect to the internet in order to do our jobs. Usually we use MiFi cards, but they can be hard to use. With eduroam, it's like I’m sitting at my desk back on campus. I don’t even think about connecting. The WiFi just starts working.”

Map of nearby universities equipped with eduroam, such as the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University. (Credit eduroam.us) IT-managed laptops and computers will be enrolled in eduroam automatically, but members of the campus community will need to register their personal devices themselves.

In order to gain access to eduroam, go to connect.wm.edu and follow the instructions. When connecting for the first time, users will be asked for their password a couple of times and whether they trust the system, to which they should comfortably click ok. Users will then receive a digital certificate which will be automatically stored on their device.

Although eduroam has been around for several years, W&M is one of the leading schools to require a certificate for the set-up process. “Authentication is more secure with a certificate because it is only valid for eduroam,” says Senior Network Engineer Norman Elton. The certificate will be valid for 6 years. It will also be reliable across password changes and will not requiring re-configuration once downloaded.

Any potential issues with eduroam will go through the home institution for support.  W&M faculty, staff, and students should contact is the Technology Support Center for help. If issues arise while abroad, W&M IT could attempt to help remotely. However, we recommend testing eduroam while on campus (before traveling) in order to efficiently handle any possible technical issues.

Eventually eduroam will replace the current Wireless and Wireless_Encrypted networks. By the 2019 winter holiday break, eduroam will completely replace the W-M Wireless _Encrypted_Network, through gradual transitions in residence halls and academic buildings. Users of either network will then be required to transition to eduroam in order to use the campus network. Elton adds that “Except for the name, eduroam is otherwise the same W&M network. But unlike the old network, eduroam is a service that can go anywhere.”

So wherever your interests take you, whether to another state or another country, eduroam  will be there for you.