Wi-Fi (Wireless) Policy

Last updated: July 28, 2023


Design of the UW Wi-Fi Network

The UW Information Technology organization has been charged by the University Administration with overall responsibility for proper deployment and management of a fully monitored Wi-Fi network service, including infrastructure elements and radio frequency (RF) spectrum use. Wi-Fi infrastructure deployed by UW Information Technology (UW-IT) is designed to operate harmoniously with our existing networks. The Wi-Fi network is also designed to enhance seamless roaming between access points within and between many buildings and outdoor areas.

UW Information Technology (UW-IT) offers three Wi-Fi services for the UW community:

  • Eduroam – This is an encrypted, general-purpose Wi-Fi service. Not all devices support eduroam, but most properly configured laptops, smartphones and tablets should be able to use this service. Once configured, the device should automatically join the network not only at UW locations but at the thousands of other eduroam sites around the world.  We recommend use of this as your primary network while on campus.
  • UW MPSK — This is an encrypted network using unique pre-shared keys (PSK).  This is intended to support IoT devices (game consoles, printers, etc.) and may be used for laptops and other devices that can’t connect to eduroam.
  • University of Washington – This un-encrypted, general-purpose Wi-Fi service requires a device to be registered to access the Internet. This service is designed as an “open” network, which means there is no over-the-air transmission encryption. Registration is automatic after the user successfully enters their UW NetID and password in to the captive portal.  This is primarily for guest access and to support joining eduroam and is considered the network of last resort for UW faculty, staff and students.

Service is provided via Wi-Fi “access points,” which are located throughout the majority of buildings and some outdoor areas across all three UW campuses, UW Medicine hospitals and clinics as well as other UW locations.

Wi-Fi bandwidth is shared by everyone connected to a given access point and/or other wireless devices operating in the same area. In fact, interference from other devices is one of the most common reasons for decreased Wi-Fi performance. Interference may come from personal or departmental Wi-Fi, cordless phones, microwaves, wireless cameras, wireless video devices and projectors as well as other items using the same radio frequencies as Wi-Fi. Distance from the access point, buildings or objects between your device and the access point, interference, quality of your equipment, the number of wireless devices in the area and other factors may also impact performance.

UW Wi-Fi is a production service. Users should contact the UW Service Desk at (206) 221-5000 or help@uw.edu if they are experiencing problems or have questions.

To promote efficient and secure Wi-Fi network access, UW-IT maintains strict standards for the deployment of Wi-Fi devices at the University of Washington. These standards and their related restrictions are outlined in further detail below.

Wi-Fi IP Address Policy

  • DHCP is the standard addressing method for the UW Wi-Fi networks, and it is expected to meet the majority of customer requirements.
  • Wi-Fi is a dynamic service. Due to the dynamic nature of Wi-Fi, IP space serving a building or open space can, and will, change over time due to capacity re-engineering.
  • Wi-Fi Fixed IP addresses are available for clients with a demonstrated need. These clients should understand that due to the dynamic nature of Wi-Fi address space, they may be required to change these addresses periodically and possibly with short notice.


  • University of Washington policy requires that all new deployments of Wi-Fi infrastructure be installed and maintained by UW-IT. Installing departmental or DIY Wi-Fi access points is prohibited to avoid possible interference with the UW Wi-Fi network, unnecessary impact to the wired network, and to minimize undue security risks to the University. Additionally, in areas where centrally-managed Wi-Fi networking is available any pre-existing locally managed access points must be removed.
    • Any exceptions to the above policy must be approved by UW Information Technology as the University Technology Advisory Committee (U-TAC) delegated exception authority.
    • Departments with research-related and/or clinical requirements to maintain a locally managed Wi-Fi network will be required to abide by the Wi-Fi LAN Security and Coexistence Guideline.
    • Departments meeting these requirements may request an exemption and/or fee waiver by contacting the UW Information Technology Service Center at help@uw.edu or 206-221-5000.
  • It is UW Information Technology’s intention to maintain the highest level of service possible for our Wi-Fi clients. In order to facilitate this goal, students and staff are asked to minimize the potential for interference from other non-infrastructure devices that use the unlicensed 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio frequency (RF) bands. UW Information Technology will regularly monitor activity in these bands and will notify users of interfering devices that have the potential to impact the campus Wi-Fi network. The University, through UW Information Technology, reserves the right to restrict the use of any 2.4/5GHz radio devices that are found to be potentially disruptive to the Wi-Fi network in all University-owned or managed properties.
  • Use of the Wi-Fi network is subject to the usual policies for use of UW campus network services. See Policy page.
  • Only devices authenticated via UW NetID may access network resources outside the UW network.
  • The University, though UW Information Technology, reserves the right to disable your Wi-Fi network access for a variety of reasons, including “excessive” bandwidth usage, a misconfigured or compromised device, or degradation of service to other users. The UW operates both un-encrypted and encrypted Wi-Fi networks, any sensitive information transmitted over any Wi-Fi networks should follow the UW standard for minimum computing security. It is your responsibility to use protected transport-level or session-level protocols if sensitive information is transmitted over any Wi-Fi network. If your department handles Personal Health Information (PHI) or other regulated information, additional steps may be required to ensure the security of that sensitive information. (See UW Information Systems Security policy statement .)

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