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2 Universities Block Access to iPad Owners

Two universities have given Apple's iPad a failing grade, with access to their networks blocked.

Soon after the new tablet computers were introduced April 3, Princeton University began experiencing client malfunctions on its network owing to incompatible devices seeking to obtain an IP address.

In a message posted by the university, Princeton said that beginning April 4, Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) malfunctions were observed on its network as iPads used DHCP to obtain an IP address lease, and then continued using the IP address without renewing the lease further.

Princeton said iPad owners may be unaware of any connectivity problem, but that it may interfere with service to other devices.

Princeton said devices which repeatedly cause this malfunction are blocked from its network services.

The university dismissed some reports that the malfunctions pointed to a WiFi signal or connectivity problem with the iPad itself, saying it was instead a DHCP client issue.

iPads are currently only capable of connecting via WiFi, although Apple will soon ship devices that can also connect via 3G cell phone networks.

Princeton also disputed some media reports that the school had "banned" the device from its campus, although it had posted an alert for iPad owners saying, "Until a fix is provided by Apple, OIT recommends not connecting your iPad device to the campus network as it is extremely likely it will malfunction. iPad devices that malfunction in this manner while connected to the campus network may need to be blocked to maintain the stability and reliability of campus network services."

That alert has since been amended with a workaround procedure published by the school which would allow iPads to connect. But failing to follow the workaround procedure will still lead to devices being blocked.

George Washington University in Washington, D.C., likewise said network issues will prevent those with iPads from logging onto its wireless network.
As the GW Hatchet reports, students who use the iPad or iPhone will be blocked.

An official told the paper the school was working on making devices that use sign-in security (as the Apple devices do) compatible with the school's system, but suggested that would not be available until Spring 2011.

Cornell University's IT director Steve Schuster told the Tech News Daily writer Dan Hope that the school had found no DHCP malfunctions with the iPad and had not banned or blocked the devices, but was nonetheless concerned about bandwidth problems.

To intolerant schools, critics say, the fault lies not within the iPads, but in their servers.

ZDNet blogger Zach Whittaker dubbed the universities "idiots" for not keeping up with technology. He questioned GWU's contention that its network could authenticate some devices but not others, and suggested Princeton's excuse about incompatibility was not the whole story because only 20% of iPads have been blocked.

"Authentication should not be discriminatory based on brand, product or operating system," Whittaker wrote.

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