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The Statesman

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The Statesman

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    University Hopes to Improve Wireless Capabilities

    Freshman Niccolo Pagano just finished moving in on his first day. After having set up his laptop — power cord and all — Pagano attempted to connect to the Internet. No such connection could be made.

    Pagano expected to find a wireless network in his dorm, and so he did not bring the necessary cable with him. “I was lucky [my roommate] had an extra cable,” he said. “Otherwise I would have been without Internet until I had the chance to buy my own.” It was just one more thing Pagano had to worry about on his first day.

    As hopeful students searched for wireless networks on move-in day, their computer discovered an issue: ‘No wireless networks available.’ Today, some students expect wireless, some even consider it when choosing their college, leaving them asking the question, “Why is there no wireless?”

    Stony Brook University does have wireless on campus, called AirNet, but it is only available in certain, though many, locations. AirNet is currently available in many of the popular locations around campus, such as the Student Activities Center, the Melville Library, and the Kelly Cafe.

    The residence halls, however, do not yet have wireless.

    On Oct. 1, Kelly Quad began installing wireless routers in Residence Hall suite rooms in Hamilton College. Quad Director Dave Scarzella said the residence halls are starting a wireless residence hall system in the near future.

    Although it’s easier to use Ethernet cables and jacks — which physically connect computers together — in dorm rooms, it still ties students down. Classrooms do not have the same ability to use Ethernet connections, as every computer would require its own cable and jack.

    “The Ethernet cables are irritating,” said Malisa Ali, a freshman living in Benedict College. “It’s a hassle to connect and disconnect them. I want to just take my laptop and go.”

    Other students agree. “They flaunt us as one of the top research universities, yet we’re still living in the Stone Age,” said Marcus Dean, a junior living in Langmuir. “Even the hardwire connection is frustrating. If there’s more than three devices in a room, you’ll need to buy a switch to connect them all.” Dean said that he might be jaded, having transferred from Brooklyn Polytechnic that does have wireless Internet in its dorms.

    Schools such as Hofstra University or the tech-savvy Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, have wireless across their entire campuses. These schools offer the added option of wired connections in the dorms.

    Hofstra and Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania even offer wireless Internet to guests and visitors through a separate network, as opposed to the student network, which requires specific credentials to connect to. Stony Brook has something similar, called GuestNet. This network requires users to log in with a username and password in order to connect to the Internet, however, and this login information.

    These three schools have fewer students and less land than Stony Brook.

    With over 1,000 acres of land to cover, blanketing the campus with wireless coverage may seem to be an epic task. Chief Information Officer for the Department of Information Technology Richard Reeder said, “Presently, we are piloting some new wireless hardware in West Apartments… While the technology is not cutting edge at this point, the price point for the new hardware is considerably cheaper than the generation of equipment that is currently being used. If the new equipment proves to be satisfactory, we could potentially expand wireless coverage.”

    The university has continued installing wireless technology in Dewey College, in Kelly Quad. Muhammad Habibullah, a Resident Assistant in Dewey, said he enjoys the wireless. “I can work in the common area or in a friend’s room,” he said. “I really like that my roommate and I can work in separate rooms now, and not distract each other.” Habibullah mentioned that he sometimes watches TV while working, which some persons may find bothersome.

    Reeder mentioned that the expansion on campus has been continuous, and he projected that all classrooms will have wireless within two to three years.

    Because additional budget cuts have yet to be confirmed, Reeder had no information regarding either the effect of the cuts on expanding the network or the possible effects they would have.

    More information about AirNet and GuestNet is available on Stony Brook University’s website.

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