Can A University Ban WiFi Networks?

from the seems-illegal... dept

Slashdot is running a story about The University of Texas at Dallas banning independent WiFi networks to avoid interference with the university-run WiFi network. There’s just one (big) problem. The FCC has made it clear that only they have the right to regulate unlicensed spectrum. That was the point of the ruling they made just a few months ago telling airports they can’t stop anyone from setting up WiFi networks within the airport. At the same time, though, this does demonstrate some of the issues with unlicensed spectrum. As great as it’s been for generating massive growth for things like WiFi, interference is still a problem — and one that not enough people have paid attention to.

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Comments on “Can A University Ban WiFi Networks?”

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Loraan says:

No Subject Given

My best interpretation of the situation is that you can regulate what people attach to your network, but you can’t regulate what people carry around. My IT department can prohibit me from bringing in an access point and attaching it to their network, but they (technically) can’t prohibit me from bringing one in and setting it on my desk, but not plugging it in. The failure in the UT case is that the students in question are apparently using a third-party ISP, so they’re never attached to the UT network. I’d say, no dice.

Cris Daniluk (user link) says:

Re: No Subject Given

Your IT department certainly can prohibit you from putting an AP on your desk. They (by proxy) own the desk, the building, and the land it sits on.

So does UT.

And the FCC ruling is totally inapplicable to this situation. The rules are different for an airport, as they are for public transportation, and thus a public facility of which any American, and many people who aren’t, may use its commercial services, free from any form of “discrimination” (as long as you’re white and didn’t buy your ticket with cash). The rules are totally different on private property, with UT’s campus is.

Taking federal and state funds is not a qualification for being a public facility! So, UT has a perfectly valid case… as long as the students are broadcasting from THEIR property. If the students put the broadcast stations just outside of campus, though… hint hint

Arantius (user link) says:

A school can do it

Even if it is a public school, you’re there voluntarily. They can set whatever rules they want (basically), and you have to follow them. Or go to a different school.
When I was in college, it was mandatory to purchase a meal plan from the meal service provider that was in every eating establishment on campus if you lived there.
This is the same as not allowing kids to have air conditioners or hot plates in their dorm. It’s not regulating unlicensed spectrum.

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