October 3, 2001

Wireless Network Allows Greater Internet Access

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Wireless network allows greater internet access

By Peter Lin

Sun Senior Writer

Cornell’s new wireless network gives students the opportunity to access the Internet in the absence of a wall outlet at speeds much faster than a dial-up modem, all for free.

Since its inception one month ago, the wireless network, called RedRover, has drawn 250 students.

RedRover allows its subscribers to access the Internet in certain areas around campus without plugging a modem or Ethernet card into a wall outlet.

Currently, RedRover is available in 12 of the main campus libraries, as well as in other buildings, including Olin Hall and Willard Straight Hall. Open areas such as residence hall lounges will eventually provide the same service, according to a Cornell Information Technologies (CIT) news release.

Anyone with a Cornell NetID can register with CIT in order to use RedRover. Registration, as well as using the service, are both free of charge.

The only requirement for using RedRover is having a network interface card installed on a laptop computer.

“We [CIT] recommend the Enterasys RoamAbout network interface card,” which is available at the Campus Store, said Elizabeth Davis, RedRover manager.

It “worked the best” in CIT’s tests and had the fewest number of problems connecting to Cornell’s wireless network, though other network cards were also compatible, Davis said.

“If the card is WI-FI compliant, it will most likely work with RedRover,” she added.

Despite its convenience, RedRover is not intended to supplant the current wired networks. Students will continue to use ResNet for network access from their residence hall rooms.

“RedRover is a supplemental service that is not meant to replace wired ethernet,” Davis said.

Because wireless connections are generally more vulnerable to security breaches than wired connections, RedRover should not be used to check grades, salary and other personal information, according to Davis.

The wireless network is also slower than wired Ethernet connections. The wireless network can transfer data at up to 6-8 Megabits per second, compared to 56 Kilobits per second for a dial-up modem and 10 Megabits per second for Ethernet connections. This means that, at maximum speed, the wireless network is over 100 times faster than a dial-up modem but about 1.5 times slower than Ethernet connections.

Nevertheless, many students welcome wireless access to the Internet.

“I think the main benefit of RedRover is the convenience it brings to students, as long as the cost to the University isn’t too great,” said Haichen Wang ’05.

Cornell University and Cornell University Library fund RedRover, while an anonymous donor helps to fund wireless access in the libraries.

Part of the impetus for installing RedRover was giving students the ability to work in more places around campus and to bring Cornell to the forefront of technology, Davis said.

Information on installing a network card and registering for RedRover is available at www.cit.cornell.edu/redrover/.

Archived article by Peter Lin