Library postpones wireless effort

The first floor 24-hour reading room will be the Gelman Library’s last wireless initiative until the library receives more funding.

Students will be able to access wireless Internet in the reading room in the library within the next few months, officials said.

“We have stopped any future development at the moment due to a lack of funding,” said Bill Mayer, assistant University librarian for Information Technology.

The library’s funding is increasing by $1.4 million for next year, which will allow the library to give more funds to University Writing Program initiatives and programs dealing with GW’s “Academic Excellence” plan.

Jack Siggins, University librarian, told The Hatchet in February that the library would also hire more librarians.

Mayer said the library currently has 90 percent coverage on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors, including the stack areas, which cost about $8,000.

Kerry Washburn, director of Administrative Applications for Information Systems and Services, said her department has been looking into increasing the number of access points campus-wide.

Washburn said efforts have resulted in steady progress, including equipment installments over winter break in the Hippodrome and library. The University’s policy is only to respond to specific departmental requests to install wireless Internet, she added.

She said GWireless is also accessible in Kogan Plaza, Himmelfarb Library, Tompkins Hall, 1776 G Street and parts of the Academic Center.

Robyn East, executive director of Administrative Applications for ISS, said GW is adding wireless access points in Rice Hall and will be finished by the end of the week. University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s office, among other administrators’, are in Rice Hall.

The University is also in the process of increasing access in Ross Hall.

To take advantage of GWireless, students need a laptop computer running Windows XP Service Pack 1, Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 or Mac OS X (10.2.6). Students also need a wireless network card, the GWirless client and a GWMail account. The client is available from the Web site, and students can buy wireless cards at the GW Bookstore.

Although GW installed wireless access points in the Hippodrome, officials said the University has no plans to add wireless Internet in J Street. Alexa Kim, director of Student and Academic Support Services Technology Communications, said the University would have to evaluate whether wireless Internet would cause additional congestion at J Street before making a decision.

Officials also said GW has no plans to go completely wireless. East said wireless Internet has limited bandwidth, which puts a boundary on the possible amount of data transferring. In addition, wireless Internet does not work well in all areas.

Washburn said GW is in preliminary stages of considering a partnership with Sprint or Verizon to increase running wireless lines underground. She said ISS is evaluating costs and the user load that wireless connections can handle.

While GW has lagged behind other universities in building a wireless network, officials said they are committed to creating a more secure network.

“Good security is good business,” Mayer said. “Given where we are (in D.C.), we take that responsibility very seriously.”

Officials said they are enthusiastic about the security of GW’s wireless network.

“ISS takes information security very seriously,” Washburn said. “Our set-up ensures that the content of the transmission, as well as the data in our systems, remain secure.”

“ISS views wireless computing as a supplement to, not a replacement for, our high-speed fiber network drops,” she added.

American University is “totally wireless,” meaning students can use personal data assistants, laptops and cell phones to access the Internet from almost anywhere on campus.

A two-month trial period of the wireless program demonstrated ease of use and effectiveness, according to an American press release. American officials declined to return several phone calls.

Several students said they would like to see more wireless access points on campus.

“I wish we had wireless in more places,” sophomore Andrea Doucette said. “It’s great not to have to use the wired computer labs. They’re always full or closed.”

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