RIT Prepares for Deployment of Campuswide Wireless Access

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RIT is taking a major step towards upgrading access to wireless technology on campus. Through a partnership with Cisco Systems Inc., the university is expanding its wireless capabilities to cover most of the campus, including all academic facilities and common areas inside the residence halls.

Wireless access on campus is currently limited to some academic areas. RIT’s networking communications department will be working throughout the remainder of the academic year on the design and deployment of wireless capability in additional facilities to ensure widespread access.

“Universal wireless access will be a key to our campus’ future success in attracting and retaining top-tier students and faculty,” says RIT President Bill Destler. “This cross section of users challenges us to lead the transformation of how students, faculty and staff connect, communicate and collaborate.”

Wireless access is among of the top concerns raised by students as it relates to their academic success. RIT Student Government championed efforts in support of the university’s investment in this technology.

“Bringing full wireless coverage to the university has been a goal of Student Government for over a year, states Gerry Brunelle, director of services for Student Government. “Having Wi-Fi access will encourage students to work outside of their classrooms and give them the flexibility to connect wherever they want on campus.”

Ed Wolf, president of Student Government, adds: “RIT now has the potential to become one of the most wired campuses in the country. Students coming to RIT expect wireless Internet access, and we’re excited that it is coming to fruition.”

Students in RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences will play an important role in helping implement the university’s expanded wireless capabilities. Under the direction of Bruce Hartpence, associate professor of networking, security, and systems administration, students will receive hands-on participation in the project’s deployment, providing valuable experience in preparation for careers in the wireless communication field.

RIT’s wireless project also sets the foundation for enhanced use of Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP telephony, to members of the campus community. Depending on their location, individuals with dual-mode mobile phones will be permitted access to the wireless signal, allowing users to control costs associated with their cellular plans.

“This fixed-to-mobile convergence solution permits individuals to be automatically connected over the wireless signal,” explains Jeanne Casares, RIT’s chief information officer. “It reduces the number of minutes used on their cellular plans without requiring them to manually switch to the wireless network.”

The project team, led by Laura O’Donnell, plans site surveys in preparation to expand wireless access inside the residence halls to possibly include individual living spaces. Design features of the residence halls make widespread deployment more challenging than in other areas of campus. A future assessment will be made to determine if full implementation in the residence halls will take place during a later phase of the project.

Wireless access inside all academic facilities is scheduled to be completed this summer.