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Attention Laptop Users: UAlbany Goes Wireless

Students in UAlbany courtyard

by Greta Petry (July 26, 2005)

Starting this fall, laptop users will be able to enjoy the weather on the podium and connect to the University at Albany's network, thanks to a significant expansion of wireless service on campus.

WiUAlbany, as the new service is called, makes wireless access available from the outdoor sections of the podium, all of the Campus Center, and, of course, the libraries, both uptown and downtown.

In addition, wireless access will be available outside the Lecture Centers, and in the garden area between the Campus Center and Science Library.

"WiUAlbany allows students, faculty and staff who have laptops to log on to University resources and the Internet from any point in the coverage area - without having to plug in to a wall jack," says Chief Information Officer Christine E. Haile.

"Our goal is that a user can travel from one end of the campus to another and maintain a clear, secure connection to the campus network," said Tom Neiss, Director of Telecommunications.

How will students, faculty, and staff access this new system?

They will log on via a secure system, using their netID and UNIX password, and be able to access the network from anywhere covered by the wireless signal.

"Through this improvement in technology services, we are extending the capacity and reach of our wired network infrastructure, in support of an anytime-anywhere information environment," said Haile.

Significant planning and engineering went into the project. This included the technical engineering of where to place the access points, implementing mechanisms to authenticate users and encrypt wireless traffic, and testing the network with various models of personal computers that students and faculty use. "Wireless provides mobility that isn't possible with a desktop computer," Haile said. "It's not necessarily better - one can always get more network capacity, i.e., faster connections through a connection to the wired network (plugged into a wall jack.) If you need lots of bandwidth, a wired connection is probably better. But the mobility factor has become increasingly important. Students want to stay connected to e-mail and the Internet when they're on campus. Wireless access provides that connectivity and we hope to expand coverage in subsequent stages of the project."

WiUAlbany accommodates Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. To get started with WiUAlbany, please visit: http://www.albany.edu/its/datacomm/vpn/.

The Office of the CIO anticipates expansion of wireless to include increased coverage on the uptown campus and the downtown campus during the coming academic year.