Wireless not as easy as it seems

Glennis Siegfried

Residence Services

A 50-foot Ethernet cable duct-taped to the wall snakes down to Anthony Karhusz’s bedroom. It’s how the sophomore business major gets Internet access in his room at Beall Hall.

“I have no mobility,” he said. Beall and McDowell Halls are not set up for wireless Internet and have only partial coverage in the shared study lounge.

Tom Beitl, executive director of infrastructure and operations, said there is a lot of work that goes into making a building wireless.

“There was never a big push to make the entire campus wireless,” he said.

Wireless access on campus has been set up in “high traffic” areas, including the Student Center, Library and Risman Plaza.

“I’ve never had a problem, and (I) like being able to connect anywhere,” said Nicole Zaccardelli, junior special education major. Zaccardelli and her sister, Ashley, sophomore fashion merchandising major, are both commuter students.

“I can usually get a better connection here than at home,” Ashley said.

Most dorms on campus have either partial or no coverage and are “a unique animal,” said Beitl.

The only exceptions are Stopher and Johnson Halls and the four residence halls connected to Eastway Center.

“We spend most of our time in the dorms,” Karhusz said. “They should make it more convenient.”

An Ethernet connection is provided in each room, and first-floor lounges are covered with wireless. But some students are still experiencing spotty coverage.

“The wireless is not very good in our lounge (Centennial D),” said Rachel Sherman, sophomore early childhood education major.

Over the next year, Residence Services is planning to review available options for setting up complete wireless coverage in all dorms. In its meeting Tuesday, Kent Interhall Council announced the possibility of charging students a fee in order to gain wireless access. This would be for on-campus residents who have no wireless Internet in their residence halls. At this time, wireless services are included in students’ room rates.

It is against policy for students to set up their own wireless routers in the dorm, and for good reason.

“(A router) can bring down a whole building if (the settings) are configured wrong,” Beitl said, adding that the main goal is to keep everything running for everyone.

Almost all administrative or academic buildings have either partial or full wireless coverage. The exceptions are Smith Hall, Cunningham Hall, Williams Hall and the Science Research Center.

It all boils down to the money and usage, Beitl said.

Information Services does not completely pay for wireless in any building, he said. Instead, the residence hall or department must help pay for the costs of setting up access points, wireless ports and wiring.

Recently, buildings without wireless access submitted an inquiry for setting up wireless in the buildings. The inquiry gives the total cost and maps out access points that would be set up.

If a formal request is submitted, Information Services would start work on the buildings. Most likely, three of the halls would be finished by the end of the year, and the fourth would be completed over the summer. But that’s only “if they opt in, ” Beitl said.

Right now, coverage for all four buildings would cost $700,000 and 289 access points would have to be set up, Beitl said. To set up an access point, it costs $420 and for a wireless port, $145. Wiring would be approximately $420.

Contact technology reporter Glennis Siegfried at [email protected].