Randolf Smuntz in “Mouse Hunt” said, “a world without string is chaos.” Whether this phrase will hold true or not, only time will tell as Information Technology Services begins the first phase of its five year plan to make the River Campus wireless.

The entire River Campus should be accessible via wireless technology by students and faculty in 2007.

Wireless technology allows students to be connected to the school network, surf the Internet and send instant messages without having a physical link such as the LAN cables used in dorm rooms.

Jeanette Metzger, ITS Communications Analyst and her staff originally envisioned this plan two years ago in response to developments in wireless communication systems. After months of planning and studying the various wireless standards, standard 802.11b ? a form of wireless ethernet ? was chosen for its reliability, speed, and usability.

The wireless technology that allows students and faculty to connect to the university network differs from the wireless technology of the cellular phone. The university’s wireless connection runs off of high frequency radio signals, very much like cordless phones.

The first phase of the five-year plan was completed in late August. The Eastman Quad, Rush Rhees Library and Wilson Commons are now fully capable of providing wireless services that allow students to access the school network at their convenience.

“We wanted to give more options [to students and faculty] to sit outside and enjoy the nice Rochester weather,” said ITS Center Manager Alfred Padeletti.

Student responses were equally optimistic.

“It would be cool when spring came to not be holed up in my room,” said Take Five Scholar Michael Fletcher.

Some students are excited about the new freedom wireless technology provides.

“I could be on the Internet in the middle of the field and I would be like ‘whoo,'” freshman Andrew Wendth said.

Although ITS has been heavily promoting these capabilities through UR Wireless stickers, banners and T-shirts, many students simply do not know what can and cannot be done with the wireless connection.

“I knew it was possible we could have it,” freshman Aimee Fisher said. “I just don’t know how to use it.”

Other students know about the wireless capabilities of the school but simply do not have the proper equipment nor the proper training to access the wireless network.

There are only two necessary pieces of equipment to connect ? a laptop and a wireless Network Interface Card (NIC).

Wireless-enabled laptops can be loaned from the ITS center 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. There are currently six laptops available with two more coming. Both Macintosh and Windows operating systems will be available.

“If I had known about the wireless [enabled] laptops, I would definitely have used them,” senior John Mazzello said.

Students and faculty who already own laptops can buy wireless NICs. ITS recommends three NIC cards which can be found at http:/www.rochester.edu/its/wireless/selectcard.html. But users are not limited to these 3 cards. Any wireless NIC card conforming to the 802.11b standard can be used.

Wireless NICs range between $70-$110 depending on brand and range. ITS is currently considering buying wireless NICs in bulk in order to provide cards to students and faculty cheaper.

With the transmission of data via wireless technologies, serious security questions arise. ITS has looked into these issues and has set up a Virtual Private Network server to encrypt incoming and outgoing data to prevent malicious uses of the wireless network.

To ensure further security, users must log on with their network ID. All freshmen were assigned one during the Computer Expo. All other students and faculty wishing to use the wireless services must go to the ITS center and register for their own network ID.

ITS will also offer “brown bag” training sessions to use the wireless internet. These training sessions are held around lunch time, allowing students to squeeze the training in with their busy schedules.

Further information can be found on the ITS website at http://www.rochester.edu/its/wireless/.

He can be reached at mhe@campustimes.org.

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