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AirBears: the Wireless LAN Project

What is AirBears?

Beginning in Fall 2001, a pilot wireless LAN service became available in a few selected locations around campus. The new service, known as AirBears, enables one to connect to the campus network using a laptop equipped with a wireless Ethernet card. The service is based on the IEEE standard 802.11b wireless LAN technology, which supports speeds of up to 11 Mbps.

In 2003, Philip Stark received a Grant from HP Applied Mobile Technology Solutions to utilize and analyze wireless connections in learning environments. The HP hardware allows us to add 140 new 802.11b wireless access points to the existing AirBears network, expanding it to cover most of campus. This will put us over a threshold density of coverage that allows faculty to rely on the wireless network in their teaching. Update: In April of 2004, Philip Stark received an extension to the HP grant, providing UC Berkeley with an additional 240 new 802.11 b/g access points. This will bring the total number of AirBears access points to about 500, roughly ten times the 2002 size.

AirBears was developed with the collaboration of NTT Multimedia Communications Laboratories, Inc. (NTT MCL), which is engaged in a joint research project with EECS, and is providing wireless equipment and technical support for the project.


The AirBears project was developed as part of the Wireless LAN Task Force (WLTF), which first convened in November 2000 to discuss the development of a wireless LAN infrastructure on campus. Working groups have been addressing issues of user authentication, security, vendor interoperability, manageability, airspace ownership, health and safety concerns, site selection, and cost models.

The Task Force is co-sponsored by the Information Systems and Technology (IS&T) unit and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), and is made up of members from various departments around campus. Cliff Frost, Director of IS&T's Communication and Network Services, chairs the Task Force, with assistance from Professor Randy Katz of EECS.

The main goal of the Task Force was to deploy wireless LAN technology in a manner that models how to build a full campus wireless network, accomplishing (at least) the following:

  • identify ways to minimize maintenance and installation problems
  • maintain reasonable security for the campus and privacy for the users
  • clearly identify costs and approaches to funding the activity on a campuswide scale
  • provide useful data for researchers in mobile wireless computing
  • minimize duplication of effort
  • minimize the possibility of different wireless projects interfering with one another


The following locations are covered by Airbears as of April 2004 with further expansion under way:

  • 1893 LeRoy (GSPP)
  • 2195 Hearst (selected areas available soon)
  • 2224 Piedmont
  • 2240 Piedmont (JSP)
  • 2251 College Atrium
  • 2484 Shattuck (CNS Offices)
  • 2607 Hearst (GSPP), Room 105
  • Anthony Hall (Pelican Building)
  • Anthropology Library 230 (Kroeber Hall)
  • ASUC Food Court (Lower Sproul)
  • Barrows Hall, Room 60
  • Boalt Law School
  • Bioscience & Natural Resources Library (VLSB)
  • California Hall, 2nd Floor Conference Room
  • Campbell Hall, Basement
  • Cesar E. Chavez Student Center
  • Chemistry Library (Hildebrand Hall)
  • Cory Hall (selected areas)
  • Davis Hall (selected areas)
  • Doe Annex, Bancroft Reading Room, Stone & Krouzian Rooms
  • Doe Library study carrels (selected areas)
  • Durant Hall, East
  • Dwinelle Hall
  • Education Psychology Library (Tolman Hall)
  • Etcheverry, Room 1109A
  • Evans Hall (selected areas)
  • Foothill Residence Halls (selected common areas)
  • Golden Bear Cafe (Upper Sproul)
  • Goldman School of Public Policy
  • Haas Business School (selected areas)
  • Hearst Field Annex (selected areas)
  • Hearst Gym, Basement
  • Hearst Memorial Mining Building, Room 340
  • Hildebrand Hall (selected areas)
  • International House, Library, Great Hall and Heller Courtyard
  • Koshland Hall (selected areas)
  • Kresge Engineering Library (Bechtel Engineering Center)
  • Kroeber Hall, Basement, 1st & 2nd Floors
  • Latimer Bixby Commons, 2nd Floor Undergraduate Labs
  • LeConte, Rooms 251, 275, 282, & 286
  • Lewis, 2nd Floor
  • Mario Savio Free Speech Movement Cafe (Outside Moffit Library)
  • McCone Hall Earth Sciences Library
  • McLaughlin Hall (selected areas)
  • Minor Hall (selected areas)
  • Moffit Library, 1st Floor, 450, 450C, 550, and 550C
  • Morrison Hall, selected areas on 1st Floor)
  • Moses Hall (selected areas)
  • Museum of Verterbrate Zoology (VLSB)
  • North Gate Lecture Hall (Graduate School of Journalism)
  • Pat Brown's Grill (Genetics and Plant Biology Building)
  • Pimental Lecture Hall
  • Ramona's Cafe (Wurster Hall)
  • Richmond Field Station, Building 484
  • Simon Hall, 3rd, 4th, & 5th Floors
  • Soda Hall, selected areas on 2nd & 3rd Floors
  • South Hall
  • Sproul Hall
  • Sproul Plaza, upper level
  • Stephens Hall, Room 30
  • Student Computer Consulting Service (1st Floor Moffitt)
  • Tan Hall, Room 775A & 775B
  • Terrace Cafe (top of Bechtel Engineering Center)
  • Tolman Hall (selected areas)
  • University Hall, Rooms 80 & 571
  • Valley Life Sciences Building, 2050 Lecture Hall
  • Warren Hall Library, 1st & 2nd Floors
  • Wheeler Auditorium
  • Wurster Hall (selected areas)
  • Zellerbach Playhouse

AirBears Coverage Map AirBears Coverage Map

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