Cellphone, wireless service to expand

Cell phone and wireless Internet coverage will continue to expand on campus, thanks to the addition of more wireless Internet hotspots and Verizon’s plan to build a cell phone antenna near New Hall.

University administrators said they have been working to increase wireless Internet access on campus and have added service to popular areas such as the Marvin Center’s J Street and Columbia Square to GW’s wireless network. Verizon Wireless said by December a new antenna will be installed to increase cell phone service.

“We are working on a site very near (23rd and H Streets) that we plan to activate in December,” said John Johnson a spokesman for Verizon Wireless.

Johnson said Verizon installs antennas on top of buildings or as attachments to buildings.

Student complaints over bad cell phone service may have urged the company to increase coverage on campus. Johnson didn’t specify which building would receive the antenna, but New Hall, a dorm near the intersection, is notorious for having bad cell phone service.

“It’s fine, but it could be better,” said senior Matt Carney, who lives off campus near the location of the proposed antennas. “Some dorms don’t get any reception.”

In addition to cell phone service location of the proposed antennas. “Some dorms don’t get any reception.”

In addition to cell phone service increasing in the next three months, GW has already added new hotspots to the wireless Internet network on campus. Since last March GW has added parts of the Mount Vernon Campus and Marvin Center.

“You can only put a wireless network on an existing network so there has to be an existing network and existing data jacks,” said Alexa Kim, executive director of ISS Technology Services. “Another aspect of the cost is that at every wireless access point, the bigger the space the more access points needed.”

The Marvin Center’s J Street is an example of a more costly addition to the wireless network, Kim said. Being a large space with a large number of concentrated users necessitates the installation of more access points to keep up a high speed.

University plans for wireless Internet will not stretch the network across the entire campus, rather only in densely populated areas, Kim said. The timeline for adding more network areas is dependent on cost.

“There is no grand plan for adding wireless on campus,” Kim said. “The addition of GWireless depends on cost and existing networks.”

Wireless networks already exist in Gelman Library, the Marvin Center’s Hippodrome, the 1957 E St. third floor lounge, the School of Media and Public Affairs’ third and fourth floors and in Kogan Plaza.

Administrators said there are no plans to extend the wireless areas into residence halls where heavy traffic could cause network overload.

“Each dorm is equipped with the fiber cables,” Executive Vice President and Treasurer Louis Katz said. “The wireless network can not handle as many users as the reliable fiber cables.”

Over the summer the Mount Vernon quad was added to the GWireless network to supplement Eckles Library and Ames Dining Hall, which were already on the network.

Funding for new GWireless locations comes from the University general budget, but GWireless additions to Gelman Library were paid for in part by the library budget.

The University still has no plans for making the entire network wireless. Its goal is to focus on more public places to enable students to be more mobile versus relying on a complete wireless network, which could be slightly slower.

“The residence halls already have such a great network,” Kim said. “It doesn’t make sense to put it in the residence halls because wireless is slower than the existing fiber network and is more like a nice add-on to a wired network.”

For students to access the GWireless connections they must have a computer running Windows 2000, Windows XP or Mac OS X also need a wireless card, a GW e-mail account and a virtual private network client that can be obtained from www.helpdesk.gwu.edu.

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