Updated: iPhone/iPod Touch With Penn State Wi-Fi…And Other Details

14 Jul

Update August 24, 2008

Both methods seem to be working fine.  I am posting the settings at the top of this post so you don’t have to scroll down anymore.  Here they are:

Go to Settings > General > Network > VPN > Add VPN Configuration > IPSec tab. Then enter the following details:

Description: <Whatever>
Account: <PSU Username>
Password: <PSU Password>
Use Certificate: Off
Group Name: pennstate
Secret: pennstate

Then save it, and on the first page of settings there is now an On/Off toggle for the VPN. Just flip the switch whenever you need to connect to PSU’s wireless.

If they don’t work for some reason, please let me know and I will amend them.

Update: August 14, 2008

The ITS Alert has been updated to report that the iPhone/iPod Touch now function correctly with the VPN.  Several sources have told me that it is consistently working.  What I would like to know now is if the settings that were originally posted here (now at the bottom of the page) work.  The settings given at the bottom of this post are shorter than the steps listed on the personal page that I posted the other day.  Leave a comment, let me know how it goes!

Update: August 13, 2008

An email to the person who’s instructions were posted on his personal page resulted in a link that I’ve posted  here before.  Hit up this link to see an update to the upgrade of the Penn State VPN.  The upgrade should allow for the successful connection of the iPhone and iPod Touch to PSU Wi-Fi VPN.  From the update:

The vendor has released the new code that should resolve the iPhone and iPod Touch issue. TNS will be loading the new code during the maintenance window on Wednesday 8/13/08. During this upgrade ITS wireless service will not be available from 5:00AM to 7:00AM.

So that means that in a few hours, they will be rolling out an update to the network.  It would be great if some people could test it out on both the iPhone and iPod Touch.  Let me know in the comments if it works for you.  Thanks!

Update: August 11, 2008

A link from the forum post that offers spectacular step-by-step instructions (w/ screenshots) has been posted.  The instructions have you put in the off campus VPN information.  Can someone on campus test to see if this method works?  In the meantime, I’ll contact the person that posted this information to see if he’s had any luck.

Updated August 7, 2008

An update from ITS in an email:


Unfortunately, there still does not appear to be a fix. NOC just put out an alert about some problems with wireless connection on campus, which stated that they are still trying to resolve the issues with the iPod touch and iPhone. For more information, please visit

I’m sorry that I can’t give you any more information. We will make every attempt to keep users updated as more information becomes available. Thank you for contacting the ITS help desk.

Updated July 24, 2008:

So I emailed the Helpdesk at ITS today. They replied with a “there are no updates to report at this time”.


We have not been able to work out a solution on my blog but some good discussion is going on. Please give it a look and leave a comment with your thoughts.

I have a feeling that the problem lies with Penn State’s network. In that case, we would have to wait until they configure the VPN server to accept this kind of device.

Updated: I have moved all related information to this location.  I created it so I can continue to run stories on my blog, while still keeping the information everyone wants/needs.  Bookmark this new page because I’ll be updating it when ITS comes out with a solution.  Thanks for reading!

Original Post:

I wanted to do a post on a few things related to Penn State’s network.  The first concerns an upgrade to the network and the second concerns the iPhone/iPod Touch.

As most Penn State students know, we must connect to wi-fi on campus via VPN connection.  Problems still plague this technique, as connection speeds are slow and VPN (in my opinion) is unreliable.  The story broke a few months ago, but Penn State is testing new connection methods over on Services Road (close to the Blue Band Building).  This new system only requires your Penn State Access Account Name ( and your password.  This eliminates the need for VPN completely and will make connecting easier.  Devices that Penn State does not have VPN compatible software for (think cell phones or PDAs) will suddenly be able to access and surf the internet.  This method should, in theory increase speed as the connection will connect directly through the internet, instead of being passed through VPN servers.  I have asked ITS about the current status of this upgrade, but they weren’t sure.

The second order of business also concerns using the Penn State wi-fi access points.  Since the release of the first iPhone, and the subsequent release of the iPod Touch, people have been looking for ways to connect these innovative devices to Penn State.  With the release of OS 2.0 for the iPhone and iPod Touch, support for Cisco VPN has been introduced.  I sent ITS an email asking what the procedure for connecting to Penn State with these two devices was.  They responded that they currently didn’t know, but would know for sure in a few weeks.  Knowing this, I turned to online forums dedicated to the iPod Touch.  A Penn State user posted the following in response to my inquiry:

I’m using it on Penn State’s VPN just fine. Go to Settings > General > Network > VPN > Add VPN Configuration > IPSec tab. Then enter the following details:

Description: <Whatever>
Account: <PSU Username>
Password: <PSU Password>
Use Certificate: Off
Group Name: pennstate
Secret: pennstate

Then save it, and on the first page of settings there is now an On/Off toggle for the VPN. Just flip the switch whenever you need to connect to PSU’s wireless.

Another forum poster to my thread admitted that they were having problems, but I see no reason why these settings should not work.  If you have had success connecting to Penn State Wi-Fi using the iPhone or iPod Touch, leave details in the comments (especially if the settings I have posted are wrong.

I got an email from ITS this afternoon giving some details about what was going on.  The email follows:

Hello Steve,

Staff in ITS who had also been testing the new software before it’s release last Friday experienced the same thing that you did – it worked, then it stopped working. At this point ITS staff are actively working and testing possible solutions and an announcement will be made as soon as a solution is found.

Thank you for contacting the ITS Help Desk.

So I will keep you all posted.  It seems as though a ton of people are intersted in this topic.  Keep leaving your comments of experiences.  If you find a workaround, please post it for everyone to see!


Posted by on July 14, 2008 in General


Tags: , , , , , ,

61 responses to “Updated: iPhone/iPod Touch With Penn State Wi-Fi…And Other Details

  1. brandon emig

    July 14, 2008 at 11:10 pm


    I used my ipod touch on campus on Saturday without problem. Today it worked for about 1 minute and then not. No settings were changed. I tried for the rest of the day to get on and couldn’t. The VPN said it connected. The icon appeared at the top but I could access nothing. I tried variations but nothing.

  2. Mike

    July 15, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Once again more problems with vpn. I connected this morning and was able to use my email app and browse on Safari. But as of 3:00 pm, i can’t connect. It says i’m connected on vpn and psu network; however nothing will load on safari. Seems like it’s happening to more and more people here.

  3. Steve S

    July 15, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Here is the link to my original forum post on this topic:

    I will relay any findings onto this blog as updates to the original article, so stay tuned. I am also in the process of contacting ITS for more details.

  4. KB

    July 15, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Same deal for me, I can connect but then nothing will load.

  5. SV

    July 16, 2008 at 7:08 am

    I have the same problem…I haven’t yet been able to get it to work in the lobby of my dorm. I have yet to try it in classrooms, though I doubt that it will work.

  6. Phil K

    July 16, 2008 at 10:46 am

    I connected on saturday and everything worked fine. I’ve tried since and it says that vpn is connected, the vpn icon appears in the upper left-hand corner, I just can’t use the internet.

  7. Steve S

    July 16, 2008 at 10:55 am

    It seems people were able to get online on Saturday, but now cannot. That’s pretty weird behavior. I emailed the helpdesk at ITS and am awaiting a reply. I will post the updates here. Check back for details.

  8. SV

    July 16, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    okay, so the internet decided to work at certain locations. This morning it worked when I was in the business building and also in Thomas during a biology lecture. It also worked briefly when I was in the Life Sciences building.

  9. KB

    July 16, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Worked for me in the business building classroom, but not in the main lobby. I have not been able to connect in the HUB or anywhere else for that matter.

  10. brandon

    July 16, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    worked for me in ITS and Chambers for many ons and offs over hours. Then not. I tried to determine any patterns and have not. However, both periods it worked for the first time after logging on (not allowing access in spite of “successful conxn”) and then turning on again and then trying without setting up again. Repeated tests yielded no patterns however.

    The proper functiong of this device is much more important to me than my laptop. I’ve been waiting a long tim. I’ll probably use it 10 times more than my laptop.

    How can I get this message out? I hope this device is not forgotten about. That’d be short sited.

  11. btopro

    July 17, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    not working over in borland building. I can connect but it just sits there churning and doing nothing when I try to get any content.

  12. Zak

    July 18, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    whenever I connect via iPod Touch’s (2.0) VPN, it succeeds, but generally won’t make it out to internet servers. Oddly, I am generally able to determine my location in Maps, but the map won’t load – somehow packets are getting through to the server that provides latitude/longitude data, but not the image host – strange.

  13. markh

    July 18, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    does not work is sparks – drag

  14. AlexB

    July 21, 2008 at 11:24 am

    I also can connect to the VPN, but I don’t seem to be able to get any data after that.

  15. AlexB

    July 21, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Is anyone positive they’ve seen data come through the VPN, and not just from the cellular network? I have trouble believing that the VPN would connect so easily and then only intermittently send data. Maybe it is, it just seems much less likely, right?

  16. KB

    July 21, 2008 at 11:47 am

    ^ If you don’t have the cellular networt (aka the Touch) then you can easily prove that the VPN is problematic.

  17. mike

    July 21, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    posting from the touch working on and off today

  18. markh

    July 21, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    same problem still in sparks. using the “IPSec” VPN setting in the 2.0 software in the itouch configured as described above i can connect to the vpn no problem, but i cannot get any of the web applications to actually work. no data. sounds like the same problem as AlexB

  19. Kleach

    July 21, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    My VPN connected today, but I did not get any access in sackett, Willard, or the hub. Interestingly I could only connect to when the VPN was off.

  20. brandon

    July 21, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    I’ve used only my iPod touch. There is no cel network. I’ve tried about 100 times to connect over the past weeks (I know I’m obsessive). I’ve connected 80% of the time to VPN, actually had functional Internet about 10 times, and not been able to connect to VPN about 10 times (VPN timed out or got error). Functional connections lasted from 30 seconds to half an hour. Some lasted thru multiple on-offs others ended mid page-load. When a conxn ends I have been generally unable to reestablish it.

  21. Steve S

    July 21, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    I’m starting to think that the problem lies within the architecture of the iPhone/iPod Touch. The underlying software/hardware of the system may not be similar enough to standard operation systems to function on the Penn State network.

    I would be interested in knowing if the iPhone software allows the import of VPN config files. If that is possible, then one could simply grab the profile for University Park from the VPN software for OS X and drop it on the iPhone. Please let me know if it has this option. I would assume Apple would include a feature like this, especially if they are gearing it towards corporate users who use VPN like crazy.

  22. brandon

    July 21, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    It does accept such files. I forwarded this to the helpndesk on tues after 2.0 launched. They replied with a simple “thanks”

    The discussion linked to below stated the “use certificate” option was not avail and someone responded that XML files could be uploaded to it. You can find info at links.

    I think it’s as I suspected. No one at the helpdesk cares.

  23. brandon emig

    July 21, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    Here are some useful links. My other ones didn’t post above.

    The configuration tool can be downloaded here.

    A little review about it.

  24. brandon

    July 22, 2008 at 10:36 am

    My links did post it was just delayed. Sorry to monopolize. But I have UPDATES.

    The college of educ did post just such a configuration package.
    Found at:

    I tried it it didn’t work. I then downloaded the Windows-Web-based configuration tool. The only add’l things available on there that are not on the iphone are “hybrid” mode and “certificates”. I tried four configs to make it look like my windows based VPN. None worked.

    I stopped in the help desk in the college of educ. They said Cisco claims incompatibility with the iphone VPN given the current VPN concentrators and so Cisco recommended that PSU upgrade the concentrators. PSU is hopeful that a work around is possible, given the cost of a more extensive and otherwise unneccessary upgrade, and is working “very hard” on the situation. They hope to be ready by fall semester.

    Guess we’ll just have to wait.

  25. Stephon

    July 22, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    I connected to VPN but not to the internet with the following settings found on this page:

    Create a new VPN connection.
    Open the VPN client. Click the New button. Enter a name for the Connection entry.
    The Host: should be
    Under Group Authentication, the Name: should be psuconnect
    The Password and Confirm Password should also be psuconnect

    I will try working with the Policies tonight. Thanks Brandon.

  26. Stephon

    July 22, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    I could access all .psu domains with the above settings.


  27. Stephon

    July 22, 2008 at 1:50 pm


  28. jrdimo13

    July 22, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    that’s not university park is it? Can’t connect on vpn.aset etc. using my computer either.

  29. brandon

    July 22, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    A file with the configs had been setup by the college of ed. It’s available at the following

    The college of ed file worked about like the settings one can do on the phone itself.

    I downloaded the windows-web-iphone config tool and tried various combinations. The main difference is the ability to set a hybrid mode and use a certificate. No combinations even logged on to VPN.

    I stopped by the helpdesk in the college of ed. They said that Cisco told PSU the VPN concentrator was incompatible with iphone. Cisco recommended an update. This would be costly and is not otherwise necessary. So they are trying to make it work with the current VPN concentrator. Looks like we’ll have to wait. I believe they are very much concerned. They said they’d like to launch by fall semester

  30. Stephon

    July 22, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Yup, this is University Park where I’m at. I’m using the Moore building’s wireless pennstate connection.

  31. jrdimo13

    July 22, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    I wonder why it won’t let me connect on that new vpn configuration. It keeps churning but won’t connect at all. The vpn settings work though. Still have the problem with connecting to the internet with that one though

  32. brandon

    July 23, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Detailed technical discussion here with add’l links.

    Really wanna know what’s up. Go here.

  33. Jarryd Beard

    July 25, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    I posted this on the other page, but realize this one’s more up to date:

    “How about the new wireless 2.0 protocol? I couldn’t get that to work (”psu wireless” near the Willard Building). ITS needs to post iPhone/iPod configuring info for this protocol on its site. It has Windows, Mac, and Linux documentation for the test phases of wireless 2.0.”

    Also, the VPN connection Penn State uses has always seemed questionable at best. Even on my laptop, I’ve had to reboot at times to reestablish a connection if, for instance, my computer went to sleep or hibernation. I simply restart of the Cisco was unsuccessful. That’s one of the reasons I hope wireless 2.0 is fully compatible with most 21st century wireless technology.

  34. markh

    August 11, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    i’ve tried the recommended configuration in Sparks. it connects, but only temporarily. so temporarily, that i have not been able to do anything on the internet using this vpn connection. i tried this with a G1 itouch.

  35. Jarryd Beard

    August 11, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Well, from the time a posted my last comment (or shortly thereafter), I had actually been able to connect fairly regularly for about 1 1/2 – 2 weeks on the iPod Touch at various locations around campus. I used the same settings shown in the link from your most recent (8/11) update. It seems the only trouble now is related to the network outage mentioned in your 8/7 update. Hopefully, the bug fix code will settle this problem once and for all.

  36. jonnyG

    August 12, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    The directions from the latest update almost work. I get to connect for 6 seconds or so and then the VPN disconnects. I am in the creamery right now with a strong connection with no cigar. Oh well. I graduate in four days so I guess it is no biggey. Good luck.

  37. Stephon

    August 13, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    As of today, that update is still not working for me over here in Moore.

  38. Stephon

    August 13, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I’d like to amend my message, it does work with the usual settings. It’s quick too. Yippieeee! I just needed to disconnect and reconnect to the pennstate wireless connection. ITS released an official alert saying that it is resolved.

  39. markh

    August 13, 2008 at 2:26 pm


  40. pete

    August 22, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Awesome. Thanks for the info! I’ve been following since July waiting to try this out when I returned to school.

  41. Paul

    August 25, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Will this work for branch campuses as well? What about jailbroken ipod touches. I run my ipod touch on 1.1.4, and it doesnt seem to have the same options for setting up the VPN

  42. pete

    August 25, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Paul, I believe the option to configure VPN access (or at least Cisco VPN) was added in the 2.x iPhone/iPod touch software.

    Also.. connected today just fine in the Thomas building. This is great! No need to lug my laptop around anymore!

  43. Paul

    August 26, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Great. Got 2.0.1 and I jailbroke it last night. I have the IPsec set up for penn state. I go to Penn State Erie, and im having trouble connecting….

    Any ideas?

    I tried using the server: and all my account information, but its not working.

  44. Michael

    August 26, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    I just purchased an iPhone 3g over the weekend and configured my connection to the VPN here at Penn State UP. This morning it connected fine but as of this afternoon whenever I try to connect I get the message “No network connection available”. I am in the same location I was able to connect this morning so I have no clue what the issue is.

  45. pete

    August 26, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Anyone get 802.1X working in the test areas? It seems like an easier solution then having to turn the stupid vpn switch on every time.

  46. pete

    August 26, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Paul, I think Behrend is

  47. Dave

    August 29, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Yeah, Paul, use “bd.”

    I’ve been using my iPod Touch here at Penn State Behrend with all the same settings posted everywhere. It works when it wants to though. I can’t find any rhyme or reason as to why. As long as I am connected to the pennstate wifi signal, I can ‘connect’ to the VPN. That doesn’t mean that I am necessarily on the web though. I just check my connection by trying to update the weather app.

    Q: Is there a way to insure that the VPN stays connected during sleep mode? I have to reconnect it everytime I wake my iPod up…

  48. Patrick

    January 11, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    How can I set my email up with my itouch? Anyone know?

    • Steve S

      January 11, 2009 at 7:34 pm

      You can forward your PSU email to a Gmail account and then use the iPod Touch’s Mail app to download mail from the Gmail account. Alternatively, you can access the Gmail mail from the Safari browser. That’s what I do and it works great.

  49. Nicole

    January 14, 2009 at 11:41 am

    do you know if the VPN will work on the ipod touch 8 GB

    • Steve S

      January 14, 2009 at 12:07 pm


      It will work on any iPod Touch that has the 2.0 Firmware update. If you have bought it in the last few months, it should have the 2.0 Firmware update. Otherwise, you have to pay to upgrade it.

  50. Meg

    January 21, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    So, I talked to IST today about this whole wireless internet on campus and VPN thing today, and they told me that I have to connect to the pennstate wireless internet and then connect to the VPN… but for some reason, I cant get the VPN to work!! UGH!!! I entered all of the above information correctly (which, by the way, is exactly what IST told me to put it) and it still doesnt work!! PLEASE HELP ME!!

  51. Jason

    January 29, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    I have an 8 gig ipod touch. I connected to “pennstate” wireless network and then the VPN using the updated set of instructions above and all works fine.

  52. Chris

    February 13, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    I entered all the information correctly and still couldn’t get it to work. Everytime I flipped the VPN switch “on” it said it could not find it. After I “forgot” the penn state wifi connection, then reconnected to wifi THEN started the VPN it is working fine.

  53. Evan

    February 23, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    I tried everything above, i always get the error that the network wont respond.

    • Steve S

      February 23, 2009 at 11:24 pm

      If the things above don’t work, take a look at some of the other comments on this page. You might find a strategy that works. If not, email ITS for help. You can also visit them in Willard Building. Good luck!

  54. Tim

    April 27, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Anybody know the vpn for berks campus…because i cant connect to the upark wifi at all/

  55. Chad

    September 22, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    The VPN stopped saving my password when I updated to OS3.1. Horribly annoying. When I go to settings, the “Password” field is grayed-out. Is there a way around it, or is Apple being annoying to me?

  56. connor mclaughlin

    August 26, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    i plugged it all in but when i went to turn it on i got a pop up saying vpn network could not be found


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