Students should soon be able to access their laptops from any place on campus, thanks to a wireless network that the University is working to develop.

Associate Provost for Academic, Information and Instructional Technology Affairs James Hilton said the entire campus should be wired within a few years.”We are currently working for the infrastructure needed for a campus-wide deployment. In the next couple of years, we will see ubiquitous wireless technology,” Hilton said.

Presently, wireless technology has already been employed at the computing sites in Angell Hall and the Shapiro Undergraduate and Hatcher Graduate libraries. The University is looking to do the same thing in the Michigan League, Michigan Union and Pierpont Commons areas, Information Technology Central Services Executive Director Katherine Bridges said. But Hilton said because the University is spread out, the current level technology makes it logistically impossible to make an immediate complete campus-wide transition to wireless computing.

“So we are evaluating technology, the standards needed to support it on campus and the infrastructure. And we expect over the next two years the technology will mature to a level that would support a campus-wide wireless environment. But we obviously can’t deploy that until it comes,” Hilton said.

There are students who do not feel that the University should spend more money on becoming wireless. “Personally, I would rather see them put more computers in the labs than wiring new places,” LSA junior Brett Schroeder said.

But ITCS spokeswoman Susan Harris said that at this point, there are no direct costs to students for use of these public zones, as each University department is responsible for maintaining its own wireless infrastructure.

“This has been highly requested by students and faculty and staff. The mission is to serve all University students, not just a specific school or college. They already have wireless communication in some schools and buildings, but they are set up specifically for that college,” Harris said.

She added that the mission of common campus buildings and University libraries is to set this service up for all students. The libraries have had this program available since January 27. Special pilot programs have been implemented in Angell Hall’s computing site and the University’s libraries. This is new for the campus to pilot a larger public implementation in the area, and to see how it goes, Harris said.

The University libraries, the Michigan Unions and Informational Technology Central Services are all in partnership to implement this transition, she added. The biggest benefit of this new wireless program is mobility, Harris said.

LSA senior Jared Cook said wireless computing would be helpful, considering the lack of wired computer access. He said it is often hard to get a standard computer at places like Angell Hall, and more people using wireless would free up lab space.

Bridges said a wireless card is needed in addition to the laptop to activate the system, if the card is not already built in to the laptop. A wireless card can range in price from $75 to $100.

“Anyone with a laptop that is wireless and able can access it. You authenticate it the same way as any other service by putting in a uniqname and password,” Bridges said. This website, www.itcom.itd.umich.edu/wireless, gives an overview of the technological instructions for getting started with wireless computing.

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