Wireless coverage to reach more buildings

Sarah Lelonek

There are days when bringing a laptop to class is a must and knowledge of wireless Internet hotspots are a necessity.

Nearly all of the academic buildings on campus have partial or complete wireless coverage, while residence halls have coverage in certain study lounges.

In order for buildings to get wireless Internet, the financially responsible administrator from the building has to submit a request to Information Services, said Cathy Mahrle, Information Services project manager.

This year, requests have been filled for Franklin, Oscar Ritchie, Kent and Henderson halls so far.

Both Franklin and Oscar Ritchie are under construction. Oscar Ritchie’s tentative date for complete wireless coverage is Fall 2009.

“Wireless goes in just like plumbing and electricity,” Mahrle said. “It’s no longer an afterthought.”

Wiring issues are keeping Kent and Henderson from having complete wireless coverage. The wireless signal should be set up in a matter of days.

“Wireless has a lot of wires to it,” Mahrle said.

In order for a building to have a wireless signal, access points have to be set up throughout the building. The access points are connected to Kent’s network.

According to the Information Services Web site, each access point can cover anywhere from 2,500 to 4,000 square feet. The building’s financial administrators pay Information Services a service fee of $19 a month per access point.

“A building with complete coverage can have anywhere from 50 to 140 access points,” said Bob Hart, manager of Network & Telecomm Services.

Because of the number of access points in completely wireless buildings, the wireless coverage can be picked up outside the buildings.

“If you’re within 20 feet of the building you should be able to get on,” Hart said.

Risman Plaza has complete wireless coverage, as does the area between Bowman and Lake-Olson halls.

Other areas with good outdoor wireless reception are outside Stopher, Johnson and Satterfield halls and the Business Administration Building.

Older buildings are among those with partial coverage.

“The way the (older) buildings are set up requires more access points,” said Hart. “Brick walls are hard to transmit a signal through.”

Residence halls also have their fair share of problems.

There are fireproof walls and elevators that block the signals. This means more access points and sometimes core drilling through the walls for installation. Both options are costly, Mahrle said.

Most residence halls opt for wireless coverage in study lounges because they’re easier for setting up access points.

The University Library has problems with wireless coverage because books absorb the wireless signal, Mahrle said. Requests are being filled for more coverage on the 10th and 11th floors.

Williams, Smith, Taylor and Cunningham halls are among the remaining buildings on campus without any wireless coverage.

Mahrle said both Williams and Smith have recently filled out requests for complete wireless coverage.

No requests have yet been made for coverage in Taylor and Cunningham, Mahrle said.

“It should take a couple more years before the campus is completely wireless,” Marhle said.

Contact technology reporter Sarah Lelonek at [email protected].