Lawrence’s Information Technology Services department is in the process of installing the infrastructure necessary for wireless internet to be available in all residence halls by the time classes start next fall.
“It’s been on our project list for a long time,” said Director of Information Technology Services Steve Armstrong.
Wireless Internet can already be found in Colman, Plantz and Trever halls. Work is currently being done in Kohler to establish the infrastructure necessary to install wireless, and similar work will be done in Hiett next week, according to Armstrong.
Ormsby Residence Hall Director and Diversity Center Programs Coordinator Rose Wasielewski noted that “having wireless will have some great positives for Ormsby,” another of the halls in which a wireless connection will be established by the beginning of Fall Term.
“The expectation is there [to have a wireless connection]; there are so many devices now that are only wireless,” said Armstrong. “Students expect it to be there because when they went around to other colleges, those schools had it.”
Wasielewski found a similar expectation within the Lawrence community. “At the beginning of the year,” said Wasielewski, “some students seemed a little disappointed that not all of Ormsby was set up for wireless, especially since other buildings were wireless this year.”
Wasielewski did note, however, that Ormsby’s currently wired-only connection has had some positive effect. “It has caused a lot of students to come hang out and study with their laptops in the lounge, creating a community that not only socializes together, but studies together as well,” she commented.
“People seem to be happy with the connection,” said Armstrong, noting the change in student satisfaction over the course of the 2010-2011 academic year due to the increase in maximum bandwidth since Fall Term. “If something comes up this fall,” Armstrong continued, “we’re ready to make an adjustment if we need to.”
Campus-wide wireless will mean that student-owned wireless access points will become not only unnecessary, but obstructive.
“Please use the Lawrence-provided wireless,” Armstrong requested. “That signal interferes with the Lawrence signal, so [students’] connection isn’t as good as it should be. It can slow down, it can drop you, it can make the connection unreliable.”
Before ITS doubled the maximum bandwidth to 200 Mbps, Armstrong noted that “people were complaining that the Internet is slow, they can’t get on. But students don’t necessarily come in and tell us.” Armstrong explained that such comments are often received indirectly, by overhearing a student conversation about the Internet connection.
Armstrong encouraged students to bring their complaints directly to ITS so that changes can happen. However, he did note that misfired complaints often result from an incorrect conception of the relationship between wireless and Internet.
“People think ‘the wireless sucks’ means ‘the Internet sucks,’ but they’re completely different things,” Armstrong explained. “Bandwidth affects the Internet; wireless is just a means of getting to the Internet.”
Armstrong noted plans to get wireless into spaces like the Diversity Center after all student rooms are covered.
“Many students are excited about getting wireless,” said Wasielewski. Armstrong agreed. “I think most students will appreciate it,” he said.