Campus expands wireless services

by Kelly Cameron | 5/30/01 5:00am

The time when students can sit out on the Green and write a paper, check email, connect to Public Server and do online research is here. Students are already taking advantage of the wireless network to bring their laptops almost anywhere they go.

Wireless capabilities are available to students for less than $100. The cost has been subsidized down from the common market price of $150 in order to make it a more viable option for students.

Currently the wireless network is available on 89 percent of the campus, says Director of Technical Services Punch Taylor. By the end of this week the River Apartments will be connected, followed by locations such as the Francophone house, graduate apartments, Women's Resource Center and the Dartmouth Skiway.

"[We] expect to have some operational problems, but it's basically there now," Taylor continued.

The new system can be used for anything from teaching and collaborative groups projects to checking email and could revolutionize teaching at Dartmouth

Director of Information Technology at Thayer School of Engineering, Edmond Cooley, said that the wireless network allows "students to use laptops anywhere in ways previously unavailable." Students and professors will be able to use different forms of media in the classroom as well, he added.

Cooley expects the relationship between a professor and his or her students to change. It has the potential to make every classroom a smart classroom where professors can send out presentations to each student and respond to questions posed electronically.

Furthermore, the new technology is likely to enhance data collection capabilities for scientists. It will be possible to gather and process data from a lab in remote locations.

Finally, Cooley emphasized that one of the most valuable aspects of the technology is that it allows any meeting place to become a "point of collaboration" without having to worry about competing for one of the few ports currently available.

Students are beginning to catch on to the new technology. Taylor reported, "I've seen a few students using the wireless in Novack Caf and on the Green, and the feedback so far is positive."

Dartmouth is a harbinger for other colleges to have this technology. The College "will be the first among the Ivy League institutions to implement a campus-wide wireless network," said Dartmouth Director of Computing Larry Levine in a press release.

Carnegie Mellon experimented with wireless technology in its Engineering and Computer Science buildings. A few other colleges have found that by using wireless technology for the campus they are able to save money and prevent damage to older buildings caused by wire installation.

Beginning with the '05s, future freshmen classes will be encouraged to purchase laptops, as opposed to desktops, in order to allow them to take advantage of the wireless network, Cooley said.

The wireless network cost about $500,000 to install, according to Taylor, but the cost for the College is offset by support from alumni, Cisco Systems, Dell Computer and Apple Computer.

Being connected via the wireless network does come with a downside. Cordless phones that run on a 2.4 GHz frequency will experience interference from the network, though most cordless phones will remain unaffected.