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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Wireless Standard provides a structure for managing wireless communications spectrum on the UNC Campus. The UNC-Chapel Hill technology infrastructure is provided to support the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill business and its mission of education, service, and research. Wireless communications for data and voice are an increasingly important part of the overall technology plan of the University. Thoughtful management of that spectrum will improve reliability, availability and security of these services to all members of the campus community.



The owners and managers of those hosts, workstations, switches/bridges, routers, servers, and other devices capable of sending and receiving wireless network packets operating on UNC-Chapel Hill premises.


This standard applies only to over-the-air use of wireless spectrum. It does not include any broadcast-over-wired systems such as Cable TV. This standard applies to both the licensed and unlicensed portions of the radio frequency spectrum. It does not apply to wireless technologies outside of that spectrum, such as Infrared.


Wireless interference: Common sources that cause wireless interference include: wireless hotspots (including phones configured as hotspots), wi-fi printers, media streamers, cordless phones, gaming systems, video devices, a garage door opener, Bluetooth devices and improperly shielded microwave ovens.  Since these devices all operate in the 2.4 GHz (predominantly) or 5 GHz (sometimes, but not as often), they can disrupt wireless connectivity. Other devices, such as wireless keyboards and mice, also use the 2.4 GHz frequency.  Some energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs leak radio frequency (RF) interference that interrupts wireless signals. Depending on the source of interference and degree of disruption to the campus WiFi network, ITS may request or require relocation or removal of a disruptive RF source.


Passive sources of wireless interference are materials like wood, plaster and glass; all allow the signal to pass through easily. Bricks and concrete are more difficult, while concrete and metal can stop a signal.  In spite of ITS’ best efforts to provide robust signal availability, WiFi use on campus is affected by such passive sources of interference.  Individuals should consider these factors.


Turning off or intentionally interfering with wireless access is not allowed and is considered a violation of the UNC-Chapel Hill Acceptable Use Policy.


Wireless technology is and will for the foreseeable future be a shared bandwidth technology (like old shared Ethernet hubs). As such, services that rely on appropriately configured switched electronics, like IP Multicast, will not effectively work in a wireless environment.


Licensed Spectrum Use

The use of licensed spectrum is controlled by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It is the responsibility of the license holder to maintain a valid license and to comply with all applicable Federal, State and Local regulations regarding the use of such equipment. Departments that use licensed spectrum must annually report the frequencies used to the Assistant Vice Chancellor for ITS Communication Technologies.

Unlicensed Spectrum Use

The FCC provides several portions of the RF Spectrum for public use without licensing. While the lack of license requirements provides accessibility, the lack of control increases the likelihood of radio interference.  Use of such spectrum shall comply with the UNC-Chapel Hill Wireless standard unless an approved exception exists.

Currently, the FCC provides the following spectra for unlicensed use:

  • 902-928 MHz
  • 2400-2483.5 MHz
  • 5150-5350/5470-5850 MHz

This standard will apply to any future unlicensed spectrum which may from time to time be made available by the FCC. Should such bandwidth become available, the most restrictive requirements will apply. Each section of Spectrum has different requirements and will be treated separately.

902 – 928 MHz:  This band is typically used by consumer electronics such as cordless telephones.


Restrictions: No reporting is required. Users causing interference to any other frequency user are expected and required to amend their usage to eliminate the interference.


2400 – 2483.5 MHz: This band is currently used for a variety of technologies today, including Bluetooth, Cordless Telephones, and 802.11 (Wi-Fi).


Bluetooth: There are no restrictions for Bluetooth users. Bluetooth use may cause interference with other devices in this spectrum and with each other. Users causing interference for any other user are expected and required to amend their usage to eliminate the interference. Failure to perform such remediation could result in removal of access by the University. Due to the limited security available with Bluetooth devices, users are responsible for ensuring the proper security for all of their devices.


Cordless Telephones: Cordless Telephones that operate in this spectrum may not be used.


5150 – 5350/5470 – 5850 MHz: This band is reserved solely for data communications purposes. No devices operating within this spectrum may be installed on campus without written permission of the Vice Chancellor for Information Technology of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. No wireless access points operating within this spectrum may be installed by any department or individual other than ITS.


The use of any spectrum made available by the FCC in the future for unlicensed communications, or any band not listed here, will not be permitted without express, written permission of the Vice Chancellor for Information Technology of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


802.11 Wireless Networking (WiFi)


  1. Any school or department that wishes to pursue having 802.11 wireless networking within their building or for their department open a ticket to arrange for an appropriate site survey by ITS to assess the requirement for wireless connectivity, determine how many access points/radios are needed and where the optimum location for placement of these radios would be.


  1. Only access points purchased from and managed by ITS are permitted to be used on campus. If any other 802.11 (WiFi) device that functions as a wireless access point is identified within campus-owned or leased property, it will be disconnected from its power source and from the network.


  1. If the purpose of the wireless connectivity is for departmental administrative/faculty/staff connectivity, the department is responsible for all costs associated with the equipment and any wiring that might be required; however, ITS will provide the configuration, maintenance and management of the access point(s) at no charge to the department. Specific details of the costs of the access points and any cable installation that would be required will be provided at the time of the site survey.




Specific or blanket/process exceptions to the application of this standard may be made by the Vice Chancellor for Information Technology, Assistant Vice Chancellor for ITS Communications or their delegate(s) and documented in writing.


Licensed Spectrum: The use of licensed Radio Frequency (RF) spectrum is controlled by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).


Unlicensed Spectrum: The FCC provides several portions of the RF Spectrum for public use without licensing.


UNC-Chapel Hill Constituent: UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, staff, students, retirees, contractors, distance learners, visiting scholars and others who require UNC-Chapel Hill resources to work in conjunction with UNC-Chapel Hill.


Related Requirements


Link to Internet RFC 1173


UNC-Chapel Hill Data Network Policy

UNC-Chapel Hill Wireless Standard

DNS Memorandum of Understanding Form

Contact Information


Subject Contact Telephone Online
Policy ITS Policy Office 919-962-HELP
Networking ITS Communications Technology 919-962-HELP


Important Dates

  • Effective Date and title of Approver: Effective May 2, 2017, Deputy Chief Information Officer
  • Revision and Review Dates, Change notes, title of Reviewer or Approver: Standard derived from superseded Wireless Networking Policy dated November 24, 2014.