Wireless Frequently Asked Questions

What computer platforms can I use to gain wireless access to the USC Network?
Currently, ITS supports Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion), Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion), Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks), and Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite).

Do I have to register my computer or mobile device first?
Although you are not required to register your computer or mobile device, we highly recommend that you do.

I am a visitor at the university. How can I gain access to wireless?
The USC Guest Wireless network is open to all visitors. There is no log in or account required.

Do I need the VPN client to get connected?
If you are connecting to the USC Secure Wireless network, you will not need to log in via VPN client to access restricted USC resources as the USC Secure Wireless network has built-in WPA2 encryption that provides security for your network traffic.

However, if you are connecting to the USC Guest Wireless network, you need to log in via VPN client if you want to access restricted USC resources or to engage in Internet activities besides web browsing and email. For regular Internet usage, you do not need to run the VPN client to get connected. However, ITS strongly recommends that you run the VPN client whenever you connect, as the VPN offers security for your network traffic.

For more information on VPN, see itservices.usc.edu/vpn.

How secure is wireless access to the USC Network?
The USC Secure Wireless network is a WPA2-Enterprise encrypted network which provides 128-bit encryption.
However, the USC Guest Wireless network in not encrypted in any way; your data and personal information are not secure. You are responsible for protecting your information. For greater security, we advise that you use the VPN client software.

Can a cell phone interrupt my connection?
A cell phone probably will not interrupt your connection, however there are cordless phones, microwave ovens, baby monitors, garage door openers, car alarms, certain fluorescent lights, WiMAX devices, and some LCD computer displays that operate within the same frequency range as the USC wireless network (2.4 GHz and up). These can cause radio frequency noise interference and disrupt your connection. The majority of this background noise is in the 2.4 GHz range. Using a 5 GHz card usually results in better performance.

Additionally, unauthorized access points, mobile devices acting as wireless hotspots, wireless printers, Apple Time Capsules, gaming consoles like the XBox 360, Zigbee devices, wireless video cameras, and wireless speakers can cause direct wi-fi co-channel interference. Turning off sources of interference or increasing your distance from them will reduce interruptions.

What else can interrupt my connection?
Connecting to USC wireless uses radio waves. Things that interfere with radio can also interfere with your wireless access. The largest offenders are objects containing metal and water. People, fish tanks, large plants, mirrors, energy-efficient windows, appliances, file cabinets, power cables, speaker wire, satellite antenna wire and steel reinforced walls all can cause the signal to be interrupted or lessened. If you experience a connection problem, try moving away from offenders to a different part of the room or within sight of the wireless access point.

What can I do to get a better connection to USC Secure Wireless and USC Guest Wireless?
Avoiding sources of both RF interference and wi-fi interference will result in better connections.

Purchasing a device with Dual-Band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) radios and configuring the device to prefer 5 GHz will allow you to connect on a less noisy and less congested frequency.

Proper system maintenance like keeping wi-fi drivers updated, operating system patches current, and preventing malware infections will increase performance.

Wireless is a shared medium. If you have multiple devices, turning off unused equipment will free up bandwidth.

Many devices will attach to the first access point that they see and will not attach to a closer access point with a stronger signal until
they can no longer communicate with the first access point at all. To work around the “sticky client” problem, once you sit down at your preferred location, simply turn your wi-fi off and then back on.

Speed on wireless is directly related to distance to an access point. Sitting closer to the signal source will improve your connection speed and reliability.

Does USC Guest Wireless support 256-bit encryption?
At this time, USC Guest Wireless does not support 256-bit encryption on its network.

The USC Secure Wireless network employs WPA2-Enterprise encryption which provides 128-bit encryption.

Will Bluetooth transmissions interfere with my wireless connection?
Bluetooth transmits in the same frequency range as the USC wireless networks so it is possible that the transmissions may interfere with each other.

What do I do if I am blocked from the USC network for Dell Singleclick port scanning?
Dell Singleclick refers to the scanning features of the Dell QuickSet and Dell Remote Access programs that come pre-installed on new Dell laptops and can cause severe slowdowns on the USC network. If your connection to the USC network has been blocked for singleclick port scanning, please visit Disabling Dell QuickSet’s Wi-Fi Catcher and Disabling Dell Remote Access, and follow the steps to disable the scanning feature for each program. Once you have disabled the scanning features in both programs, call the Customer Support Center at 213-740-5555 to re-establish a connection to the USC network.