Photo illustration by Jon McAllister / Asst. photo editor

Photo illustration by Jon McAllister / Asst. photo editor

Ohio State has joined a program that will provide students and staff access to wireless Internet around the world.

Eduroam is a service that allows users to log in to the wireless network of any participating institution via their own university-affiliated email address and password.

The service was designed by a European technology task force in order to make international research easier, and has spread to more than 70 territories worldwide.

“It started in Europe where universities and public institutions are not permitted to have an open network,” said Garrett Harmon, a network engineer for the Office of the Chief Information Officer. “They had a problem when guests would come to their campus. They would go through some cumbersome process to create a guest account for that user.”

Harmon said Eduroam lets people visiting an institution log in with their home institution’s credentials.

In the U.S., Eduroam is currently offered at Indiana University, the University of Chicago, Columbia University, the University of Florida and many other schools.

Six schools in Ohio use Eduroam, including the University of Cinncinati, Case Western Reserve University and Miami University.

Harmon said OSU began allowing its students to use Eduroam at other universities last summer. In December, OSU started allowing visiting students and researchers to connect to the Wi-Fi networks on its campus.

Another feature of Eduroam is the price: $0.

“There is actually no cost to it. There are no startup fees or ongoing dues,” Harmon said.

Harmon added that OSU’s existing infrastructure was already advanced enough to use Eduroam and did not need any updates.

The service works by allowing a user to access their home university’s network while connected to another school’s Wi-Fi, said Beth Varcho, a spokeswoman for the OCIO, in an email.

“When a user from a participating institution visits another participating institution, the users’ credentials are authenticated back to their home institution rather than locally,” Varcho said.

She said the Eduroam servers determine the location of the user’s home network and allow roaming.

Eduroam provides two important services: It allows traveling OSU students to easily connect to wireless networks and gives visiting students, professors and researchers access to the campus wireless network, Harmon said.

“One big win is the ability to offer easy, secure and familiar Internet access to researchers and professors from the U.S. and abroad,” Varcho said. She also mentioned that OSU students studying abroad will no longer have to worry about finding a wireless network to connect to, as long as they configure their devices before they leave campus.

“Institutions send authentication requests to top level Eduroam servers, which determine where the user’s home network is,” she said. “Students and researchers can now ‘roam’ between institutions without having to reconfigure their devices.”