The WCL Wireless Network

WCL has 48 wireless access points providing wireless coverage for the entire law school and the front patio. As a security measure, using the WCL wireless network requires you to login with your user credentials before getting online. Please see our wireless setup page for instructions on configuring your computer.

Wireless Hardware Requirements

A wireless network interface card (NIC) is necessary to access the campus wireless network. Many computers have a built-in 802.11g NIC. The WCL wireless network uses the 802.11g Cisco access points. If your computer does not have a built-in NIC, you will need to purchase a card that is compatible with this wireless standard. Cards are available for both Windows and Macintosh. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to install the hardware and drivers on your computer.

Wireless Recommendations

We recommend using an 802.11g/n card such as Cisco or Linksys. Our network is running on Cisco equipment and fully supports Cisco products as well as Cisco compatible devices. Here is a list of compatible devices http://www.cisco.com/en/US/partners/pr46/pr147/partners_pgm_partners_0900aecd800a7907.html. If your device is not on the list we probably support it, but if you are uncertain please contact the Student Lab.


Problems with wireless software, device configuration, connectivity, or the wireless network should be directed to the Student Lab in the second floor of the Law Library. Wireless problem reports should be submitted through our problem report form to help us better track issues relating to the wireless network. The Student Lab can also be contacted by email at comptech@wcl.american.edu or call 202-274-4361.


Wireless covers the entire law school, however you will need to restore your connection to the network if you move between floors or leave a classroom. To restore your connection, right click on the wireless symbol in the lower right corner.

Many laptops shut off the wireless device during inactive periods to preserve power. Make certain your internal wireless network card is on if you get disconnected from your wireless connection.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my Wireless connection drop and then reconnect?
Windows XP uses a service called Wireless Zero Configuration. This service is much better in Windows XP SP2. Even better is to not have Windows manage your card and use the vendor's applications and drivers. If you do use Windows you will want to disable 802.1x authentication.

  1. Click Start, point to Connect To, Click Show all connections, and then double-click your wireless network.
  2. On the General tab, click Properties.
  3. Click the Wireless Networks tab.
  4. Under Preferred Networks, click your home network and then click Properties.
  5. Click the Authentication tab, and then clear the Enable IEEE 802.1x authentication for this network check box.

Also, make certain your laptop is not configured to power down your wireless card. From step 2 click on the Advanced tab and look for Power Save Mode. Make certain this is disabled.

Can I increase the wireless range of my laptop?
  • If possible, try installing an external antennae. Some newer laptops support add-on antennas. Look for a jack similar to the headphones jack sometimes labeled "SMA jack". Consult your laptop documentation for more information.
  • You can also try installing a USB wireless network adapter with external antenna. These adapters connect to your laptop using a short USB cable and their antennas improve signal range. You will need to disable any internal wireless network cards you have.
  • You can adjust the power settings on your wireless card. You will want to turn off any power saving features that may decrease the antennas power as well. If you are using the manufacturer's drivers then follow their instructions to do this. For Windows XP, Click Start, point to Connect To, Click Show all connections, and then double-click your wireless network. On the General tab, click Properties. Click the Advanced tab. What you see here differs from card to card but you are looking for something similar to Power Output or Transmission Output and maybe Power Save Mode. Make certain the output is at 100% and that Power Save Mode is disabled.

Where in the Law School can I use my wireless laptop?
The entire Law School has wireless coverage including the front patio.

Should I leave my external wireless card in my laptop when not in use?
It is not recommended to do so. Part of the card will extend out of the chassis of the laptop and thus be vulnerable to physically being damaged. It is very common for the wireless network adapter to be damaged when left in the laptop while in transit.

How do I setup my wireless card with a wireless network?
Please see our wireless configuration instructions page. If you have questions or problems, contact the help desk at comptech@wcl.american.edu.

If you have an internal network card it will already be installed. If you purchased an external you will need to follow the manufacturer's instructions. These instructions are for Windows XP.

  • Click Start, then Connect To, then Show All Connections. Double-Click your Wireless Connection.
  • Now click Details. At the top of this window you should see Physical Address and then a long alphanumeric number adjacent to it. That number is your MAC address and will be needed later so you should write it down. Click Close and then Close again.
  • Now in the Network Connections window Right click on your Wireless Connection and left click Properties in drop down menu. You should see a Wireless Networks tab. If you do not, the wireless card's driver is not supported by Windows. You can up date the driver from the vendor or you can use the manufacturer's software.
  • Click on the Wireless Networks tab. Since you are using Windows to manage your wireless card make sure the box is checked for Use Windows to Configure My Wireless Network Settings.
  • Click Advanced, at the bottom of the window, and make certain the radial button for Access point (Infrastructure) networks only is checked. Click Close. Click Add.
  • Now enter the SSID which is WCL. Click the Authentication tab and make certain you check off Enable IEEE 802.1x authentication for this network. Click OK. Click OK.

Will the Apple AirPort card work with the wireless network?
The Apple AirPort wireless card is fully functional with the Law School's wireless network.

Are there any locations outside of the school where I can use my wireless card?
There are many hotspots throughout the Washington-DC metro area. Here is a listing for users who already have an ISP. This site http://www.wi-fizone.com/zoneFinder.asp?TID=7 will help you find hotspots available for your ISP (Artizen, V-Link, etc. ) and give you information on them. If you are looking for a free wireless hotspot you may be able to find one here http://www.wififreespot.com/.