Officials test interest in wireless Internet

Adam Zobel

Adam Zobel

Wireless Internet access in the University Student Union is possible in the near future if student interest is high enough.

Union and Information Technology Services are currently running a test of wireless internet service in the Market to gauge student interest.

Darin Behara, assistant director for the USU, said that a wireless internet access point was installed above the Market during finals week lasts semester. The access point, which is about the size of a clock radio, is on loan from ITS through February. It has a range of about 150 feet. The signal will travel through walls, floors and ceilings, but is diminished by those barriers.

The cost of providing wireless internet throughout the union may be a challenge.

Communication Network Analyst Kendell Rohrbach said that ITS charges $100 per month for one access point and that six to eight access points would be required to cover the Union. The potential annual cost of $7,200 to $9,600 would have to come from the DSUA budget.

“If we can solve the money issues, we will support this project 100 percent,” Behara said.

The speed of wireless Internet is typically slower than the regular LAN connection that serves campus buildings. The actual user speed varies depending on the number of users at an access point. However, wireless Internet allows for more flexibility than fixed LAN access ports.

“Wireless internet is good for mobility and convenience,” Rohrbach said.

The other area of campus that has public wireless internet access is the top two floors of the Briggs Library. Some classrooms in NFA are also configured for wireless internet to serve nursing and interior design students who are required to purchase laptop computers.

The test of wireless Internet in the Market may only be the start of an increase of wireless internet accessibility on campus.

“I can see wireless being everywhere on campus in the next couple years,” JoAnn Ullery, ITS assistant director, said.

Students need a Cisco wireless card and a laptop to access wireless Internet in the Market or the library. Students must contact the ITS’s Help Desk in Wecota Hall to get a user account.

Jon Drew, a laptop owner majoring in communication studies and theatre and in political science, supports the project.

“There should be as much wireless Internet access on campus as possible,” Drew said.

Even though mechanical engineering major Travis Nelson does not own a laptop, he is receptive to wireless Internet in the union.

“It would be really to do online work in the union because it’s a more comfortable setting,” Nelson said.

However, nursing student Summer George is skeptical of the project.

“What’s the point of having wireless Internet in the union when you have the Internet at home?” George said.

While student interest may be mixed, student support is needed for wireless Internet to move forward on campus.

“I’m excited about the union trying to move forward with providing technology access to students,” Behara said.