One of the most common complaints heard at UR in recent years has been the inconsistency of wireless access on University grounds. Some buildings had partial or spotty coverage, while others — notably the entirety of the Southside living area — were devoid of access to wireless connections, except where tech-savvy students set up their own networks for personal use, against University regulations.
The University’s IT department and the Students’ Association Projects and Services Committee deserve congratulations for their work on the URWireless proposal, which sets out a clear sequence of priorities for bringing high-quality Internet throughout this campus. This plan has so far seen the improvement of wireless services in Wilson Commons and expansion into Douglass Dining Center and Todd Union, both of which previously had little to no coverage, and Tiernan Hall, which was previously the only remaining freshman dormitory lacking access to the University’s wireless network. These first expansions were buttressed by work on various lounges and the residence quad — a slight change in the original order of priorities, reflecting the plan’s adaptability to financial circumstances.
Though certainly significant, these achievements were surpassed over this last winter break by the long-awaited expansion of service into the Southside living area, which previously had only allowed wireless networks in the Maisonettes. As noted in the proposal, students in the Southside area have limited access to campus wireless and computer facilities, and expanding coverage to them was a rightfully chosen priority. The proposal next intends to tackle buildings in Hill Court, fraternity housing and Spurrier Gym. The goal, as the proposal notes, is to allow students to have and use two wireless devices on all University property. In particular, the plan notes that mobile devices are playing a larger role in wireless connections, and that expanding wireless coverage across campus will require accounting for the increased use of bandwidth these represent.
While there are still areas on campus where coverage has not been fully reinforced — particularly in academic buildings — the Senate and University IT have created a plan with clear priorities and have so far achieved each objective on their list. Their achievement certainly merits kudos from the campus community.