GW to expand wireless internet access

The University will respond to student demands for expanded wireless access next semester by creating more “hot spots” around campus.

A student survey conducted by the Student Association this fall reported that 60 percent of students said having wireless access was important or somewhat important to them. Last year, in a similar survey, a majority of students said wireless access was not among their top priorities.

“I’ve definitely noticed that GW students want wireless, and we’re working to get that to them,” SA President Kris Hart said.

The survey reported that nearly 76 percent of all students wanted wireless Internet access in J Street. However, Hart said the SA is concerned the technology will create more congestion in an already busy area.

“(J Street) is already very congested. It’s difficult to find a place to eat during lunch,” Hart said. The University will be creating new access points next semester and during the summer on the third and fifth floors of the Marvin Center and at the Medical Center. Other coming wireless access points include locations in the Hall of Government and Tompkins Hall. The School of Business and Public Management, currently under construction, is set to be completely wireless.

Currently, students can gain wireless access in Kogan Plaza, Pushkin Plaza – adjacent to the Academic Center – and select locations in the Gelman Library.

Chief Technical Officer Guy Jones said GW’s move toward wireless Internet has been progressing but “has not been rolling out as quickly as (the University) would have liked,” mainly because of budgetary constraints and concerns over student interest and security.

Assistant University Librarian for Information Technology Bill Mayer said GW has had wireless Internet access for close to four years. Although the University will be expanding wireless access points over the next two semesters, officials said improvements to the existing wireless network will be completed first. Major upgrades to Gelman Library’s wireless infrastructure will occur during winter break.

“Our goal is to have wireless (access) throughout the building,” Mayer said. “By next fall, wireless access should be available anywhere throughout the library.”

The library’s technology officials have been working closely with Information Support Services to bring a single, cohesive wireless solution for the entire campus.

“We’re really working hard with ISS to make the best possible wireless network,” Mayer said.

The main delay for University-wide wireless rollout has been Information Technology’s concerns about the medium’s security. While other universities such as Tulane and Dartmouth have had wireless for years, Mayer said those schools have less stringent security policies than GW. Mayer added that GW only planned to further wireless connectivity when increased security solutions were available.

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