Kent State still untangling wireless plans

William Schertz

University working on Internet expansion to cover more locations

Intel recently conducted a survey to determine the 50 U.S. colleges and universities with the greatest wireless Internet connectivity.

Ranked No. 3 on the list of “unwired” campuses is the University of Akron, while two other Ohio schools, Case Western Reserve University and the University of Dayton, are found further down.

Kent State was nowhere to be seen, which brings to question, “Where is the university in the wireless accessibility scheme?”

The university, in fact, has had limited wireless accessibility for years, said Greg Seibert, director of Network Services.

“I wouldn’t say that Kent is far behind (other universities),” he said. “We have had a lot of wireless coverage for some time on campus. It was just not done in an organized or official manner.”

The university implemented a program called FlashZone in 2003 to expand Kent State’s wireless coverage, which will eventually bring the university’s wireless coverage under “one umbrella” to make the coverage zone “seamless and reliable,” Seibert said.

Paul Albert, director of Information Services engineering and operations, has been in charge of the FlashZone project since it started, and said he expects the university to have full wireless accessibility within the next five to six years.

Comparing The University of Akron to Kent State, Albert suggested that Kent State’s wireless coverage will be of higher quality by the time it is finished.

“Several years ago, The University of Akron made a major investment in a wireless infrastructure,” he said. “Their network covers their entire campus. Their wireless connections are considered better because the survey focused on the percentage of the campus covered by wireless not the quality of the wireless coverage.”

Seibert agreed, saying because Kent State’s wireless network is more recently engineered and uses more recent technology, it can be guessed that the university’s coverage will be better than Akron’s. In contrast, Seibert said it would be difficult to compare the quality of coverage on the two campuses, so it would be hard to know for sure.

Currently, Kent State has wireless coverage in the Student Center, Business Administration Building, Risman Plaza, parts of Tri-Towers, the library and several other areas on campus.

Since the summer of 2004, nearly 270 wireless access points have been installed, Albert said. The university is investing several hundred thousand dollars into the program each year.

Currently, the university is planning implementation of wireless access points in Van Deusen Hall, the Art Building, Bowman Hall and Rockwell Hall. But university officials aren’t stopping there.

“In addition, we have begun working with some of the regional campuses,” Albert said. “We are currently implementing a pilot at Stark and several other regional campuses.”

Those regional campuses include Salem, Tuscarawas and East Liverpool.

Contact technology reporter William Schertz at [email protected].