Service That Helps Professors Stay Connected When Visiting Other Campuses Is Expanding

The username and password that give you access to the Internet on your campus might soon work at most large universities in the United States. On Tuesday a service called Eduroam, which allows for such password sharing, is expanding to more than 200 universities.

Eduroam gives professors and students who visit other campuses immediate access to their online networks without the hassle of requesting a guest login and password.

The service has already been broadly adopted by universities in other countries, and a few American campuses had it in place before this week. But on Tuesday the high-speed-network group Internet2 announced that it would absorb the cost of offering Eduroam to its 221 member universities, thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Universities’ membership dues to Internet2 will cover future costs for the service, said Shel Waggener, senior vice president of Internet2. Universities that are not part of Internet2 will have to pay a fee for Eduroam.

Mr. Waggener said Eduroam would streamline network access for visiting lecturers, students in exchange programs, and academics attending meetings or conferences. “There’s no required login, no seven hoops they have to jump through,” he said. “They get to be a part of that local campus.”

Eduroam got its first tryout in the United States at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where the project’s leader, Philippe Hanset, inaugurated the service as a two-year pilot program in 2005 with support from Internet2. Other universities began incorporating the service in 2009. “We had a hard time with security concerns initially, but they’ve been fairly well addressed,” he said. “People feel comfortable because it’s proven to be stable.”

The widespread use of smartphones and tablet computers in higher education has made the demand for the service more pressing, said Jack J. Suess, chief information officer and vice president for information technology at the University of Maryland’s Baltimore County campus. Although academics often collaborate remotely, they still need to meet periodically in person, said Mr. Suess, who has been involved in the project through Internet2.

“Somebody from another country visits campus and immediately gets a smile because their laptop automatically connects to the network,” he said. “And you don’t have to worry about finding someone to provision them an account.”

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