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The iPhone 802.1x hole

The iPhone 802.1x hole

The list of "missing features" for the iPhone is long, but one cavity that prevents the device from connecting to wireless networks offered by a number of universities and corporations is oft-overlooked: a lack of 802.1x support.

802.1x is utilized to secure wireless networks and restrict access. Since the iPhone does not have the capability to act as an 802.1x supplicant, it cannot join networks that make use of the protocol. College students are the most significantly affected by this lapse, unable to make use of their schools' WiFi networks.

An online petition for Apple to implement support for the standard currently has over 850 signatures, most coming from universities in the United States and UK. A few comments from signatories:

  • "Many college students need this!"
  • "Please update the ipod touch to be 802.1x compatible, it really inconvenience many people who were looking forward to using the WiFi on campuses"
  • "For me the iPhone/iPod Touch are useless without it."
  • "This feature should have been standard from the word go"
  • "This seemingly small feature is a huge factor in usability that could easily be solved via a software update."

Apple has supported 802.1x in the desktop versions of Mac OS X since Mac OS X 10.3.x (Panther).