Wireless Spreads Out: IHEs Find New Ways to Tie Mobile Technology to Teaching and Administrative Services

By Warger, Tom | University Business, June 2005 | Go to article overview

Wireless Spreads Out: IHEs Find New Ways to Tie Mobile Technology to Teaching and Administrative Services


Warger, Tom, University Business


Isla Vista, a college community for the University of California, Santa Barbara now has free Wi-Fi access in the downtown area. Like many college towns, its residents have come to expect ubiquitous internet access. The new network is Firetide's Instant Mesh Network. A mesh network topology connects all nodes without requiring communication to pass through a central concentrator. A wireless mesh uses multiple network gateways, essentially radio-frequency access points, that create multiple, concurrent traffic flows among themselves. The aggregated capacity of these gateways provides seamless Wi-Fi coverage and high throughput, which holds promise for a growing number of digital communication modes on campus, including video and voice over IP (VoIP).

BelAir Networks is participating in the University of Georgia's Mobile Media Consortium, a project to test wireless infrastructures in an urban environment. The wireless mesh replaced a wireless network that had been in use for three years. Last fall, UGA's mobile media design students experimented with services such as a restaurant guide and a wireless walking tour.

MOBILE SOLUTIONS

Since 2003, Drexel University (Pa.) has used a wireless network known as DrexelOneMobile and built on Microsoft's .NET Framework, Mobile Internet Toolkit, and Visual Studio.NET. The network uses the university's LDAP directory to authenticate mobile users. Because .NET technology accommodates any software that conforms to the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), an XML-based method for encoding web service requests and responses, Drexel's administrative applications and portal are reachable through DrexelOneMobile. The campus community can use a variety of mobile devices--wireless laptops, Blackberries, web phones, and PDAs--to access the network. Featured services include news, campus announcements, and an online phone directory.

Dartmouth Cortege (N.H.) has consolidated phone, cable, and data services in one wireless system. The project, which began in 2001, has added 1,400 wireless access points to the 24,000 wired ports on campus. The college will expand its cable TV system to provide faculty and students individual "channels" for showing movie dips, video projects, or presentations. Dartmouth estimates that a wireless infrastructure will save as much as $1 million in annual maintenance, cabling, and salary costs. …

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