The iPad has created more problems than solutions on some university campuses around the country.
While neither Princeton University or George Washington University have banned use of the iPad — as mistakenly reported — the new Apple tablet is not compatible with either school’s wireless networks. George Washington’s network does not support the correct software for the iPhone or the iPad.
At Princeton University, the problem is a little more complex and directly connected to the iPad’s misuse of IP addresses within the school’s network, said ACU director of networking services, Arthur Brant.
“It’s all about managing that limited resource of IP addresses,” Brant said.
Internet protocol (IP) addresses are assigned to mobile and other computer devices to allow them to connect to the internet. The addresses are essentially leased to singular devices for a predetermined amount of time, and one device can use only one address at any given time. When this time period expires, the lease is normally renewed if the device remains on and connected to the Internet. Once a device is offline, the last lease renewal will expire, and the IP address can then be used by another device within the network. A computer network such as ACU wireless has a specific and limited number of IP addresses.
According to Princeton’s Network Systems website, “The malfunction we see is that the iPad … obtains a lease, renews the lease zero or more times (as expected), but then continues using the IP address without renewing the lease further.”
This results in a conflict when IP addresses lease to other devices. When a new device requests to connect to the Internet, it is sometimes assigned an IP address already in use by a malfunctioning iPad and is therefore unable to connect.
Princeton has requested that iPad users limit their use of the device within the network until these malfunctions are resolved. The school has also blocked around 25 iPads from using the network due to malfunctions.
Brant said no one is sure yet about the cause of Princeton’s difficulties nor why the problem has been limited to this university’s network. He said he wants to make sure ACU does not face similar iPad malfunctions in the future.
“We’re not seeing these problems, but that’s not to say we won’t in the future,” Brant said. “I feel like we need to be proactive in doing the research to better understand what we’re seeing.”
Brant said if networking services can recreate the problem observed at Princeton, it will be easier to prevent it at ACU.
The amount of bandwidth that may be necessary to support iPad use in the near future is another concern, Brant said. If more faculty and students buy iPads and then use applications requiring large amounts of bandwidth to stream information such as video or music, it could cause other connectivity problems.
Marissa Jurkis, graduate student from Abilene, said she mainly uses her iPad to look up information while in class and at home.
“It connects so fast,” Jurkis said.
Jurkis also said her iPad is usually connected to a wireless network when in use; she has a Netflix account which allows her to stream videos directly through the iPad.
Brant said current iPad use of the ACU network’s bandwidth is far from excessive. Only 25 percent of the network’s connected devices are mobile devices; the rest are predominantly laptops, and more game consoles are on the network than iPads, Brant said.