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By June 2011, AirPennNet — the University’s residential wireless network — is expected to have completed a multi-phase upgrade to enhance both the speed and security of wireless service provided on campus.

The transition, which will occur from May 24 this year through June 2011, will change the cipher — a form of encryption used in data transmission between computers and AirPennNet wireless access points — and enable 802.11n, a service that can provide speeds nearly six times as fast as the current ones.

Only students with Windows devices will be affected by the cipher change. Computers with Windows operating systems display inconsistent behavior when switching between ciphers — from Wired Equivalent Privacy to the more secure Wi-Fi Protected Access.

Mac systems should automatically roam to the new cipher types, according to Associate Vice President for Networking and Telecommunications Michael Palladino.

However, some Macs with first-generation AirPort Extreme cards will need a firmware update to support WPA2, which they should have automatically received by this point, Palladino said.

Affected students will receive an e-mail before the transition with instructions on how to install the current or newer version of Secure W2 — software that helps Windows computers use the same wireless network security tools as Penn uses.

ISC will recommend that students who will not be on campus update their computers with the newest software after May 24.

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