September 1, 2000

CIT Plans to Provide Wireless Internet on Campus

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Cornell students may have the opportunity to subscribe to wireless Internet through Cornell Information Technologies (CIT) — the department that provides wired Internet access to buildings on campus — and this opportunity may come as early the spring.

“By next spring, we hope to have 500 [modules] in service,” said CIT Assistant Director Tom Every.

These modules, called “cards” by CIT can provide Internet access to a laptop computer or to a hand-held Windows CE machine. Anybody can sign up for wireless Internet, but there will be a charge for the service, Every said.

Wireless Internet access in libraries generates mixed responses among students.

“You would need a laptop to get wireless Internet, and that’s expensive,” Gaurrav Kanal ’02 said.

However, some students look forward to the new technology. One laptop user, Kiran Sunkavalli ’03, eagerly awaits the arrival of wireless service.

“Wireless Internet is a really good idea. Sometimes when you can’t study in your room, you come to the library and you need the Internet,” Sunkavalli said.

With wireless Internet, Sunkavalli said she would use her laptop computer instead of waiting in long lines for the computer labs.

Wireless Internet coverage will encompass more than just libraries, but according to Every, there will be limits on where people can access the Internet.

“There will probably never be 100 percent coverage because of the nature of Cornell’s campus being so spread out,” Every said.

Initially, the places where people can access the Internet without a cable connection will be “focused on public access spaces where students and faculty work on portable systems,” he added.

This includes libraries, classrooms and residence areas such as student lounges, as specified by a CIT report.

Ultimately, CIT aims to “allow people to roam around campus and have seamless coverage,” Every said.

For now, however, only a limited number of students have the benefit of wireless Internet. Nomadic Computing in Education and Digital Libraries, known as Nomad, currently provides laptop computers with wireless modems to students in selected courses.

“One of CIT’s goals is to integrate Nomad into CIT to provide service,” Every said.

There are also independent wireless Internet providers in downtown Ithaca and Collegetown, such as Clarity Wireless, Inc.

Philip Yuen ’00 has used wireless Internet from independent providers and looks forward to wireless Internet on Cornell’s campus.

“It’s very, very cool. It’s also very easy to set up [and] it saves so much trouble,” Yuen said.

“The speed of wireless Internet is close to the speed of Ethernet. It might cost more money, but it’s worth the convenience,” he said.

Archived article by Peter Lin