Dorms will have wireless by the fall, rest of campus to follow

Students can finally begin saying goodbye to their Ethernet cords.
By the start of next school year, residents of Geisert, Harper, Wyckoff, University, Williams and Heitz Halls will have full wireless Internet access, said Chuck Ruch, associate provost for information resources and technology. Elmwood, Lovelace, Wendle and College Halls, the Student Apartment Complex and St. James should be wireless in early 2011.
“We will start with the more heavily populated residence halls,” Ruch said. “These decisions [were] made based on generating the most benefit possible to the users of the wireless network while also managing our resources.”
The $1 million project is expected to take three and a half years and will end with providing access to the quads, including Meinen Field and the new alumni quad. Although the academic buildings are wireless now, Ruch said more access points will be added to provide better service.
Freshman finance major Kennedy Scott said having a wired connection in Geisert this year has prohibited her from studying certain places she would like to.
“It’s less convenient when you have to sit at your desk to do everything or have a long enough Ethernet cable,” she said. “When my roommate comes home and it’s dark, there’s always a worry that she’ll trip on it and it will unplug.”
Scott said at the beginning of the school year she was surprised to find there wasn’t wireless Internet in the dorms.
“They have wireless everywhere,” she said. “McDonald’s has wireless, and no one sits in McDonald’s and does work.”
During the project, Internet will work normally, except for a momentary disruption when the new system takes over the old. Students should notice stronger signals, easier connections with less manual requirements and better performance when the project is finished, Ruch said.
The university has already purchased the controllers and software needed for the project. Controller-managed access points will run the new system.
Making the change to wireless means changing the existing access points to the controller-based system. During this point, Ruch said he hopes to simplify how students connect to the network.
Although campus will be fully wireless when the overhaul is complete, he said some places, such as engineering labs, will likely still use wired connections.
“The connection to the wireless access point is always shared with other computers,” Ruch said. “So if you need high speed connectivity, high capacity and low latency, then my recommendation is a wired connection.”