New Wireless Network Plans Announced
Last week I attended a OIT briefing on a new networking project that they are planning to begin in January of '08. After several years of ad-hoc wireless networking growth, they have decided to put together a comprehensive design for the Twin Cities campuses including indoor and outdoor service. The regents will be approached in September with the final plan and they are expecting approval.
The planned improvements include:
- better coverage in all buildings and consistent levels of service
- outdoor signal coverage added after all buildings are complete
- support for the emerging 802.11n protocol which will feature speeds comparable to wired networks
- better security and authentication systems that will make it less cumbersome to use
- peering relationships with the city of Minneapolis and any other community wireless network
If the plan is approved, existing wireless access points will be replaced starting in January followed closely by a second phase that will do signal strength test and fill in any weak signal areas. I don't know, yet, when Rapson and McNeal will be done but I'll keep you posted as the project proceeds. The first big milestone is the regents meeting in September.
This is great news for our college and the campus. It will make us more competitive for attracting students and particularly for those who are required to purchase and use laptops as part of the curriculum. We are working to eliminate some of the barriers to accessing college resources (most notably printing) by the beginning of this fall semester so we will be ready for the improvements when they come.
For faculty, it means better and more ubiquitous network service in the classroom which could be a blessing or a curse depending on your perspective and needs. Regardless, it is something that could have significant pedagogical implications. My staff and I are happy to discuss your needs and concerns. I would also encourage faculty to take advantage of the free consulting services from the Digital Media Center which has staff on both the Minneapolis and St. Paul campus.