It is clear that wireless will be the conduit to essentially free broadband access to the Internet – eventually. I’m very much looking forward to saving the $40 per month. The University of Akron, right down the road from me, is out in front of the curve:
- The University of Akron in Ohio is one of the first public universities in the United States to establish a campus-wide, entirely wireless network. CIO Tom Gaylord told NewsFactor that through a partnership with networking equipment manufacturer Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO – news), the university launched a pilot implementation at a branch campus located in a rural Ohio county in 2000. Next came the law school and, in 2001, the entire main campus.
As part of the project, the university stocked its central library with several hundred wireless-equipped laptops that students can check out. Akron student Ann Donkin told NewsFactor that even though her own laptop does not have a wireless card — true for many students — she can use a university machine to conduct research on the go.
Student and faculty response to unfettered Internet access has been unanimously positive, Gaylord said. The campus computer store is stocking specially priced IBM ThinkPads, he noted, along with wireless cards so that students can equip their own machines.
Although the first implementation was based on the 802.11b wireless networking standard, Akron is currently upgrading its access points to handle multiple bandwidths and connection types — collectively called Wi-Fi.
As an added benefit, Gaylord explained, the university is using wireless broadband technology to provide Internet access to areas that are not cabled for Ethernet. For example, the study cubes in the main library have no network access and are located in an area where it is difficult to provide enough A/C power. To bring the Web to the cubes, the university installed laptops with dual battery packs and wireless cards. The networking portion of the project — which involved 200 machines — cost Akron only US$80,000.
“That’s an ROI of 10-to-1 compared to the $800,000 it would have cost to get to the same point with hardwire and electricity,” said Gaylord. [NewsFactor.com]
Think of it as compensation for having your team named the “Zips.”