Wireless at Amherst College

Submitted by Philip K. Barr

There are currently three appoved wireless standards:

802.11b  Operates in the 2.4 GHz spectrum. Maximum data rate is 11 Mbs.

802.11g  Operates in the 2.4 Ghz spectrum. Maximum data rate is 54 Mbs.

802.11a  Operates in the 5Ghz spectrum.  Maximum data rate is 54 Mbs.

Amherst College has installed 802.11b/g Cisco Wireless Access Points (WAPs) in all of the campus buldings and dormitories. There is also wireless access on the Freshman , Valentine, and Campus Center Quads.

A new wireless standard, 802.11n, should be ratified in January 2010. WAPs using this new standard will operate in the 2.4 and/or the 5 GHz spectrum. The WAPs use multiple input and multiple output (MIMO) antennas to increase the range of the wireless signal. Maximum data rate is 300 MBs. This new standard is backwards compatible with 802.11a/b/g.

The college is plannning to upgrade to the new standard beginning in FY10 and completing the installation in FY11. The college is also planning to upgrade the wired network to switches that will provide 1Gbs service to the desktop. The 802.11n WAPs require a 1Gbs signal on the the wired side. Power to the Waps is provided over the same cable that delivers the 1GBs data.