Wireless Internet access flies across campus

Almost every building on campus has been renovated to include wireless internet access.

Almost every building on campus has been renovated to include wireless internet access.

Jessica MacIntosh

Students and faculty can start trading in those wires for wireless Internet access.

Steve Earney, assistant vice president for information services, said the computer center started installing the wireless service, Bluesecure, in September of 2004 with the Spiva Library and the Billingsly Student Center.

“We were hitting heavy student areas first,” Earney said. “Any place where students will congregate, we’ll have it.”

After the first two buildings, wireless access points were installed in other student areas including the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center and the residence halls, which were done over the summer. Along with that, some of the buildings are up with the exception of Webster Hall and Hearnes Hall. Earney said the biology, CIS and other departments are now equipped with carts that have 32 laptops, which are all wireless.

“By the end of January, I think we’ll be finished,” he said.

Earney said there were several factors in deciding to have Missouri Southern go wireless.

“A lot of students are coming to school with wireless NICs,” he said. “It is convenient for students. You’ll be able to go to the classrooms and take notes.”

Earney’s colleagues note the convenience this provides the students.

“It’s really good for the students,” said Nathan Achey, assistant network administrator.

Though the campus has ethernet connections, Earney said it “tethers” computers to the walls. He said the wireless connection gives students the “freedom” to go anywhere on campus.

“You can walk across campus, and you will come in and out of access point zones,” he said. “But you walk into another one, and it will pick right back up.”

Though the campus is going wireless, the residence halls still have ethernet connections. Earney said they are not completely phasing out Ethernet.

“We are going to tell all the incoming students to bring wireless,” he said. “The reason we’re doing that it’ll just be more uniform.”

The problem is the students who have desktop computers are in need of Internet cables and at the beginning of the summer do not bring them back to the computer center. Earney said the connections are different on each desktop, so they have to custom-make cables to fit.

“That is actually a pretty big expense item,” he said. “It costs us $7 to $10 a cable. We lose a lot of them every year.”

Another problem the computer center had was on the third floor of East Hall.

“The top floor had a two-foot deep concrete roof, and our signal wouldn’t go through it,” Earney said. “We had to experiment for several weeks to get the third floor of East Hall working properly. It was just a challenge.”

Student technicians set up all of the access points on campus.

“It’s really good experience for them,” Earney said.

He said the installations are about 70 percent complete, and in the first year, they spent $180,000 and this year $120,000 to have the wireless Internet on campus. He also said 189 students and 46 faculty members have been using the wireless local area network or WLAN. He said he estimates 500 more users this week and 2,000+ in the next year.

There is no fee for using the wireless Internet on campus, and if anyone would like to sign into the connection, one uses his or her Missouri Southern user ID to log on.

Earney said he thinks going wireless was “something we needed to do.”

“I predict in two years every college goes wireless,” he said.