FAQ: AirBears2 and Wi-Fi

Get Connected, Stay Connected

What is AirBears2?

AirBears2 is the campus-provided Wi-Fi network that provides WPA2-Enterprise encrypted wireless access for automatic authentication and improved data security.

How can I access AirBears2?

In order to use AirBears2 you must:

  • Have a valid CalNet ID.
  • Create an AirBears2 Key that you will use to authenticate to the network. You can create your key here (see directions in the 'Get Connected' row).
  • Select AirBears2 as your Wi-Fi network.
  • Accept the certificate that is offered (this secures the association process).
  • Log in with your CalNet ID and your AirBears2 key as the password.
  • You may configure your device to remember this key for automatic connection to AirBears2 in the future.
Detailed instructions on connecting to AirBears2 with any of your devices are available on Berkeley's knowledge base.

Why are personal wireless routers not permitted in the UC Berkeley residence halls?

In short, the signals from individual wireless routers can disrupt and degrade the wireless network for everyone. Most wireless spectrum space is reserved for licensed uses such as commercial television and radio. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has allocated only a limited amount of wireless spectrum for unlicensed use by the general public. Multiple devices using the same frequency simultaneously will interfere with each other. If you turn on your own access point in the residence halls, it weakens the signal strength of AirBears2 Wi-Fi for all of your neighbors.

The access points installed by UC Berkeley communicate with each other through a central controller, so they actively avoid interfering with each other. This is required because there are 3,500 access points across campus. When other access points transmit at the same time, it disrupts the ability of the AirBears2 access points to coordinate with each other and degrades network performance for every user in the area. The design and placement of the access points ensure seamless coverage across campus.

Learn more about how Wi-Fi works.

But you can run AirBears2/attwifi/CalVisitor/eduroam. Don’t they interfere with each other?

The centrally controlled wireless we use has the ability to broadcast multiple SSIDs, or networks, from the same access point. Because they use the same access points, they don’t interfere with each other.

Is wireless Internet available in University Village (UC Berkeley Family Housing)?

Wireless is available in the Community Center, Building 143 and surrounding playground, Building 153 study lounge, and Building 160 study lounge. There are no plans to deploy wireless in other University Village apartments at this time. As a result, residents of University Village are permitted to bring and set up their own wireless routers.

Which campus wireless network should I use?

There are several Wi-Fi services available on campus. We recommend you use the AirBears2 network because it is encrypted to help keep your personal data secure. AirBears2 also provides automatic authentication once you set it up on your device so you can avoid having to log in.In addition to AirBears2, the following Wi-Fi networks are available on campus:

  • eduroam: The eduroam network provides world-wide roaming access for the international research and education community. UC Berkeley faculty, staff, and students can use eduroam on campus and when visiting other participating institutions.
  • attwifi: Current AT&T customers with a qualifying Internet, smartphone, or LaptopConnect plan can access the “attwifi” network where it is provided.
  • CalVisitor: Provides basic network access for visitors to campus who do not have a CalNet ID.

For more information, visit https://technology.berkeley.edu/wi-fi.

What if my device doesn't support WPA2?

Your device must support WPA2-Enterprise to use AirBears2. Nearly every device made after 2003 with a Wi-Fi Certification on it supports WPA2.

Some devices, such as game consoles, do not support WPA2-Enterprise. If you live in the residence halls, you may connect such a device to the wired network.

Is campus Wi-Fi access related to media piracy?

No. The UC Berkeley wireless network is not specifically used to track media piracy. However, it is against the law to download copyrighted material without permission, including over BitTorrent. The industry and copyright holders actively look for individuals who are illegally sharing copyrighted movies, music, games, or software over any wireless or wired network. So anyone caught sharing files without permission could still be caught and held legally responsible. Avoid these risks! Use legal services to get your media. Learn more here.

May I use a personal NAT router if I turn off the Wi-Fi radios?

Yes. But remember, you are responsible for ALL traffic from ALL devices connected to your NAT router..

Can game consoles connect to campus Wi-Fi?

Gaming consoles cannot connect to the campus wireless network. Most can be plugged into an ethernet port to work.

Are wireless printers allowed on the campus wireless network?

Since wireless printers act as wireless access points, they are not allowed in UC Berkeley housing (University Village, Albany excepted). They cause the same interference problem as other wireless access points. Certain HP printers actively cause interference on the network by "hopping" channels. Since the UC Berkeley-installed access points coordinate with each other so as not to overlap channels, this channel "hopping" causes a lot of problems on the network for connected users.

Wireless printers that have the wireless radio disabled are allowed, and the printer should have an Ethernet or USB connection and cable to connect it to a computer.

Why do I sometimes get a low Wi-Fi signal strength?

Computer network cards can have problems filtering out interference and tend to interpret the extra interference as low signal strength. Since the campus wireless routers coordinate with each other to avoid interfering with each other, there is very little actual interference from the UC Berkeley wireless infrastructure. As long as Internet speeds remain acceptable, the "low" signal strength should not be a problem.

If you are getting low Internet speeds, check for the following common causes of interference:

  • Personal wireless routers
  • Wireless printers
  • Microwave ovens
  • Xbox 360 controllers

Student Tech Services is continually evaluating the quality of service and coverage. If you have any other questions or concerns please contact us for support.

I used to connect to Campus Wi-Fi all the time, but now I can't get on and I received an email that states something about a security violation. What's going on here?

In order to maintain the integrity of the campus network, campus security disables Internet connections when they detect vulnerabilities (viruses, malware, and other security risks). It is now your job to remove the viruses and report back to campus by emailing security@berkeley.edu with a description of your solution. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry! Just drop by our office hours in Moffitt or in a res hall Academic Center and we’ll help walk you through removing the virus and emailing campus security.

Still experiencing problems? Contact us!