FAQ

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Who are SOWN?

Members of SOWN are made of students, staff and alumni of the University of Southampton. The majority of members are from Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) but there are other members from different areas at the University.

How do I connect to SOWN?

Currently, only institutions that support Eduroam can connect to the SOWN network through a home node and gain Internet access. More information on this can be found here. Otherwise, those interested in accessing the SOWN network directly for research or to learn more, should contact us to discuss this, attend one of our Meetings or Workshops or speak to us on IRC.

Is SOWN secure?

When connecting to the SOWN network through a home node 802.1X authentication is used. This makes use of WPA2-Enterprise, which is currently the most secure widely supported means for connecting to a WiFi network.

Beyond connecting to home nodes, SOWN secures all its web-based systems using SSL certificates to provide HTTPS access when private information needs to exchanged. Home nodes connect back to the main SOWN network using SSL-encrypted point-to-point UDP tunnels provided using OpenVPN.

Is there SOWN coverage where I am?

Typically, SOWN coverage is limited to Southampton but there are some home nodes deployed outside Southampton. See the SOWN coverage map to get accurate up-to-date information on wireless coverage.

How close do I need to be to a SOWN node to get a connection?

It is very difficult to accurately predict the coverage of an individual home node, as this is so dependent on its location. Typically we would expect at least a 20 metre radius, as indicate on SOWN's coverage map), but it may be possible to establish a connection to a node 50 or more metres away. This depends on the number and strength or other Wi-Fi access points in the surrounding area. Home nodes have high-gain antenna to maximize their coverage and request that node hosts place them in a location to provide best possible coverage.

Does it cost anything to use SOWN?

It does not cost anything to use Internet access provided by SOWN. However, access is currently restricted to those that belong to an institution that supports Eduroam. There a plans to extend access to general members of the public using @sown.org.uk accounts on the SOWNroam. These accounts would also provide free Internet access but may potentially have restrictions on the amount of usage within a certain time period.

Are there any restrictions on using SOWN?

Being part of the Eduroam network requires SOWN to allow access to certain ports that are required to use applications, such as web browsers, email clients, file transfer applications and SSH clients. However, connections to other ports may be restricted. There is technically no individual user restrictions regarding usage but users should respect SOWN's Acceptable Use Policy. Some home nodes have a maximum rolling 30-day usage limit, in this case the Eduroam SSID will disappear when this limit is reached. These are indicated on the SOWN coverage map by yellow markers.

Is there someone I can speak to directly about SOWN?

The best way to speak to someone from SOWN immediately is to connect to our IRC channel. More information on how to connect this can be found here. Please note that the logs for this channel are publicly accessible. Other means of speaking to SOWN are through our contact form or by attending one of our regular Meetings or Workshops.