eduroam isn’t just available in Switzerland; it’s accessible at practically all universities worldwide. It grants all members of Swiss universities automatic internet access, regardless of their location at any given moment in time.
Michelle is studying Architecture at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). She is currently spending a semester as an exchange student at the University of Ljubljana. She enjoys and spends a lot of her time travelling. Her term paper goes everywhere with her on her small laptop so she can continue working on it in her spare time. She’s writing it together with Laura and Fabienne, both of whom also study in Lausanne. They exchange the extensive raw data and all the partial results using their shared SWITCHdrive directory. SWITCHdrive immediately syncs all the files on all the devices.
Michelle’s laptop automatically connects to the internet as soon as she’s in the vicinity of an eduroam hotspot. And because she’s also got an eduroam profile installed on her smartphone, this connects automatically as well, enabling Michelle to save her mobile data allowance.
Michelle knows that eduroam is available at almost all universities worldwide. There are currently 34 hotspots in Lausanne, 89 in Ljubljana and the surrounding area, and over 10,000 worldwide. She’s installed the eduroam Companion App on her smartphone (see the box) so she doesn’t need to spend ages hunting for hotspots. It shows the locations near her on a map.
A great deal has happened since the first specialists in Europe came up with the idea of a shared WLAN roaming solution back in 2002. The National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) joined forces to develop the concept and implement it in their respective countries. SWITCH was one of the first to get involved and has created an impressive infrastructure with the universities. Since then, the number of users in Switzerland has climbed to over one million per month, not least because almost every university in Switzerland offers eduroam.
Firstly, an organisation has to configure its hotspots so that all devices with an eduroam profile can connect to it automatically. Secondly, it gives its employees and students access to eduroam by giving each and every one of them valid eduroam profiles. When a connection is established, no matter where from, the home organisation is asked whether the employee or student is still affiliated with the university. This enables an organisation to instantly deactivate eduroam for individual users as needed.
Fully in line with the motto ‘Together for greater capability, convenience and security in the digital world’, SWITCH is already working hard on the next step, which will be made possible with the help of the new SWITCH edu-ID university ID that will remain valid for life. eduroam.ch will offer end users the eduroam profiles for their devices centrally, to some extent relieving the burden on the organisations if they so desire. eduroam.ch is also planning to use the SWITCH edu-ID to verify affiliation with a university. This will now be done using digital certificates instead of passwords. And, of course, without Michelle having to grapple with them. She’ll simply continue using eduroam – that much is certain.