Why can’t I have a router in my room?

There are policy restrictions in place to stop people from connecting unapproved devices (e.g. switches, routers, bridges) to the University network.   The reasons are explained below:

Wireless connectivity

The University wireless network is being extended into Halls, and is being carefully designed to avoid radio interference.    Most domestic routers come with a wireless access point which, if enabled in a densely populated area like student residences,  would have a catastrophic effect on  wireless performance for the whole building – and everyone in it.

Network Performance/Resilience

Plugging in a router to a university network will deliver a second rate service to that room, floor and building – and will affect other users who rely on network connectivity.   If you degrade that service, other students may be given the false impression that the Information Services department are responsible.

Unknown, unapproved equipment could affect the network in unpredictable ways.    For example, consider someone using wifi and a LAN port at the same time.   It’s easy for the LAN and wifi card to be bridged together, causing a routing loop, at worst a broadcast storm, which would drop all nodes on both network segments off the network.

Network Security

A router is essentially a “splitter” for a network connection.   It allows you to connect more than one computer to a network connection.  Many routers provide wireless capability, which anyone nearby can use if their computer has a wireless card.   So, by plugging in a router you create an uncontrolled, insecure wireless network which increases the risk of computer hacking, identity theft and malware proliferation.

Network Management.

What do you do if the service goes down or the router fails?  Or if the port is turned off?  Power brown-outs or black-outs will drop your connection, too.   Anyone connected via your router will have no connection and recourse!   There’s just too much scope for failure.

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