College dorm only has wired internet... Solutions?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by mrat93, Jul 19, 2011.

  1. mrat93 macrumors 65816

    mrat93

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    #1
    I just found out that my college dorm only has wired internet. I have to bring my own ethernet cable and keep in plugged in whenever I need to use the internet.

    I, on the other hand, would prefer to live in the 21st century and go online without wires. Do I have any options?
     
  2. mwhities macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2011
    Location:
    Mississippi
    #2
    What's the network policy of adding a wireless AP? Check with the administrators on that.
     
  3. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Location:
    The Anthropocene
    #3
    There will probably be a policy against setting up your own wireless AP, but you should check.

    Your options are then, set one up anyway, or suck it up and plug in.

    If you were to set up an illicit wireless AP, you should at least turn off SSID broadcasting.
     
  4. palpatine macrumors 68040

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    May 3, 2011
  5. Mitchelino macrumors 6502

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    Jun 24, 2009
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    #5
    As mwhities said, ask their policy on wireless internet.

    Just this past academic year my university approved wireless internet (also the year we got a new president at our university – the old one was convinced that wireless was bad for health and had it banned).

    Not sure if your college has a ban on wifi or anything. But if there isn't, then you could pick up a cheap router if it's just for your room.

    Edit: as palpatine says, the Airport Express is a pretty nifty solution. I had one and it's so easy to set up.
     
  6. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

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    Jul 24, 2009
    #6
    Airport express is what u need or a cheap router.
     
  7. goMac macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #7
    This actually is not all that uncommon for colleges. Usually for the reasons given above, if the college allows it you can just bring your own wireless base station.

    Speed on a wireless base station gets cut for every student who's joined it, regardless if they're actively using bandwidth. It's the nature of how wifi works. If you've got fifty students on one base station, your speeds get cut to almost unusable. That's why it's much cheaper just to let students do it on their own, and students who don't need wifi plug in.
     
  8. ECUpirate44 macrumors 603

    ECUpirate44

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Location:
    NC
    #8
    East Carolina has the same policy. Set up Internet sharing from Ethernet to airport to share the ethernet connection wirelessly. It's a Free simple solution.
     
  9. mrat93 thread starter macrumors 65816

    mrat93

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    #9
    From the "Residence Hall Wireless Networking" packet...

    Will AirPort Express suit my needs? If so, I'd rather not spend $100 on the latest generation. Will an older model work?
     
  10. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2008
    #10
    An AirPort Express in bridge mode will work. Bridge mode allows the Express to act as a wireless access point.

    If you're not willing to spend as much on a router/WAP, an older or refurbished one will work (check Apple's online refurbished store). Also, any wifi router that has the ability to disable DHCP will work.
     
  11. ecschwarz macrumors 65816

    ecschwarz

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    #11
    I would wait until you get there before deciding on your purchase. I've worked at (and went to school) at a few different institutions that have had varying views on student-run WiFi networks:

    Some schools flat out don't allow it and actively look for wireless routers/access points via their MAC addresses/usage (not sure how many resources are used, but it's kinda like the phone tethering discussions).

    Others require you to log in with any device on the network, usually through a web browser. This then records your MAC address with their network equipment and gives your computer the "okay" to use the network. This is often mixed with letting video game console MAC addresses pass through.

    Some use the second method and flat out ban known MAC addresses for router brands, too. If you use an AirPort, it may be seen as an Apple computer (which can't log in), or will just not work. Routers like those from Netgear and Cisco/Linksys can "spoof" their MAC address, so they appear like your computer to the outside world. I know of a lot of people who have used this method. Unfortunately, it's not part of the official WiFi spec, so Apple doesn't include this feature.

    Finally, it may just be not allowed, and you could get yelled at for using it (many lenient schools) or have your internet jack shut off (tougher ones). Furthermore, running any sort of router (wired or wireless) improperly could start sending IP addresses back into the network—we had this bring down a wing in a residence hall once.

    WiFi is convenient and great, but I'd do my research on-site first. If you can use one with no issues, the AirPort Express (any generation) is a fine product and will offer enough coverage for your room. If you can't use one, but won't get into much trouble if caught, I'd say pick up a cheapie Netgear model from Walmart or Target and have it set to look like your computer.
     
  12. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

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    The Anthropocene
    #12
    Spot on. Don't even bother listening to anyone else.
     
  13. arteggio macrumors member

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    Dec 15, 2010
    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    #13
    What about the Mac's built in ad-hoc internet sharing? (System Preferences > Sharing > Internet Sharing)

    I'll be in the same situation as the OP, so I was wondering if I could get by with this for a mini local network, locked for my personal use.

    The SSID can't be hidden, but I figured I'd just make it something random and inconspicuous relating to my street, in case it reaches seven stories down / rooms around me.

    Doesn't Windows also allow ethernet→wifi internet sharing? I'm not certain, but I don't think this kind of network can be detected without coming across it in person (the only MAC the wired network should ever see is that of my ethernet).

    Does this seem realistic? (After taking in the wisdom of mobilehaathi...)

    (I realize I'm bumping the thread about a month, but it all seems relevant enough to not make a new one.)
     
  14. ZipZap macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    #14
    Why cant you add a wireless router then simply hide the SSID so only you know.
     
  15. rogan macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2009
    #15
    hiding the SSID does nothing but stop it appearing when someone clicks the avaialable networks button

    anyone actually LOOKING for networks will find 'hidden' ones easily

    anyway, i just did my first year in college accomodation and had this problem at the start of the year, solution? just get a really long ethernet cable, its a bedroom and thats it right? who cares its just one wire, and your gna want to charge your macbook surely which means its plugged in anyway

    most places dont let you use wireless for various reasons one being so you dont have your laptop, desktop, ps3, xbox, and your web server all connected using up everyone elses bandwidth, rules are there for them to say 'you should only need one thing connected to the internet at one time'

    as said where i was (manchester) made you register a MAC address when you first connect then thats the only device you could connect with in your bedroom, (if you got a new laptop you had to request a MAC address change in the system)
     
  16. Epic Xbox Revie macrumors 6502a

    Epic Xbox Revie

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2010
    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    #16
    My school doesn't permit Wifi in the dorms, but instead gives each person a wired splitter to go and plug in 4 different devices. I don't really see the advantage here. I understand "one thing at a time" but 4?
     
  17. arteggio macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2010
    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    #17
    The things I'm thinking of connecting are wireless printer, iPhone, iPad...

    My desk area will be cluttered enough without sitting my printer somewhere nearby; as for the iPad, I would like to be able to sit in my bed and use it. iPhone, yes, it has [200-measly-MB of] data, but same reason as iPad. On top of that, wireless syncing would be godsent (for similar reason as wireless printer).

    So, for my needs, creating a simple localized wifi network that only I use (and whose internet I would be using only when not using my desktop), should be harmless, and untraceable in effect, unless someone goes out of their way.
     
  18. ecschwarz macrumors 65816

    ecschwarz

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    #18
    This is usually okay, since it doesn't send DHCP addresses back through the network and is often seen as just the computer that's sharing connected to the Internet. It's not the most secure or the most flexible, but it would work. You'd just need a computer running all the time.

    ----------

    The one thing is not necessarily the Wi-Fi broadcast, but instead how it appears to your college/university's IT department. Most routers appear different to their monitoring equipment (each place is different), but I know at one place I worked at, they could find a router in about 5 minutes of when it was plugged in to an Ethernet jack. Sometimes this goes against the IT department's policy and could land you in trouble, so it's best to wait until you're actually there or can ask someone who knows the best way to approach this..
     
  19. 50voltphantom macrumors regular

    50voltphantom

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2011
    #19
    I'm thinking there's gotta be a hack for this.
     
  20. peskaa macrumors 68020

    peskaa

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    Mar 13, 2008
    Location:
    London, UK
    #20
    I had this problem with my university years and years ago. They registered MAC addresses, and you couldn't get a router registered on the webpage. The simply solution was a tiny, cheap, PC with a WiFi card that was registered on to the network, and left in a cupboard 24/7. This then shared the connection over its WiFi, which had enough range for my room. The university only ever saw one device connected (the PC hub), so didn't feel the need to come investigate.
     
  21. 50voltphantom macrumors regular

    50voltphantom

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2011
    #21
    That's awesome.
     
  22. ecschwarz macrumors 65816

    ecschwarz

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    #22
    It's not a "hack" issue—as others have said...either use a computer to reroute the connection, so it only appears on the IT side as a computer, or find out if they allow routers and set it up so it behaves politely on the network.

    I think the biggest thing is that a lot of computer people (not saying you, 50voltphantom) feel the need to outdo "the man" when it comes to certain IT policies, but in many cases, there may not be a policy or it may be vague. The school I went to (not the one I currently work at) banned wireless routers, but if you changed settings enough, it was undetectable by their monitoring tools. The guy down the hall from me was stupid and set it up out of the box ('linksys' :)) and his router was polluting the network with addresses it assigned. He was caught shortly afterwards.

    I think the best thing to do is just ask someone..the worst they can say is "no", so then you grab an old Mac or PC, connect it to the ethernet jack and let it broadcast. Technically, it probably is against their policies, but as far as monitoring hardware/software goes, it's just another computer. Kinda like people who jailbreak and tether for free on their iPhones. :D

    ----------

    This is what our IT department seems to do - the other way around it (and they're more than happy to actually set it up this way) is to either register the router's MAC address by hand, or spoof the MAC address to look like your computer. Ours simply makes it a tad tough for people to bring unauthorized equipment, but you can still get it set up if you ask nicely and they help. Still, if you have a school that is completely against it, this is the way to go.
     
  23. Battlefield Fan macrumors 65816

    Battlefield Fan

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2008
    #23
    When setting up Airport Extreme or Time Capsule there is an opition to hide your network. Make sure to set a strong pass code. This way you have to manually enter the name and password on a new device. This is how I got around my university seeing my station. Plus it makes it a little more secure.
     
  24. ecschwarz macrumors 65816

    ecschwarz

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    #24
    That also keeps mooching neighbors off your network. Just be aware that there are two ways to "see" your network — either the actual Wi-Fi broadcast (which they can see if someone walks around with a laptop/smartphone) or the router's ethernet connection (usually from their core routers).
     
  25. Lennyvalentin macrumors 6502a

    Lennyvalentin

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    #25
    As others have mentioned in this thread, you can detect "hidden" wifi networks within seconds with the right software (which some institutions actively use to snoop out people trying to hide their networks it would seem).

    I'm not american, so I find it a bit strange that universities would be so die-hard set against people having their own wifi networks, that seems like backwards, anti-information revolution thinking. *shrug*

    Security through obscurity isn't security though, and should never be relied upon. It's going to fool you more than it does an attacker. :)
     

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