Wireless Internet gets improvements

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Information Technology Resources will continue its work on the campus wireless Internet network as more students become aware of the universal access in various buildings and residence halls.

According to a Residential Computing Resources and Technology guide produced by RCR, the technology support group in the dorms, the wireless system network is a way of connecting to the Internet using radio waves instead of actual wires. The wireless access points, or APs, are chosen to provide maximum coverage at any location.

“(When) one or two people (use) the service, connection is still faster, but (when) more people use the connection, it loses the (connection) strength,” said Steven Fitzgerald, chief technology officer for ITR.

According to ITR, there is wide industry support for the 802.11b and 802.11g wireless standards, and most laptop computers and even pocket PCs can easily use the CSUN wireless network. Students, faculty and staff also have an option to install a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, which can add to the security of wireless connections.

ITR is responsible for installing, operating, monitoring, backing up and maintaining the various servers on campus, which include CSUN e-mail and Internet services.

Fitzgerald said it is a matter of maintaining the work on the network that administrators have already done. He said there are areas of the wireless service that might need to be looked at, as technology consistently requires maintenance.

“Like buying a car, it needs maintenance to make sure it will continue to work,” Fitzgerald said. “The same with technology, it also requires maintenance to make sure it is accurately working.”

Some students, despite the continuing work on the wireless system, have come to appreciate the aid the network brings to their everyday student lives.

Tamara Bininashvili, junior biology major, said she started using the wireless connection this semester. She said that despite not having the fastest connection on campus, she is pleased that at least the option is available to her.

“Around campus, it’s good, but not the best,” she said. “In the grassy area, the connection can vary from good to very good, while inside the Freudian Sip, it’s not great.”

Achiamar Lee-Rivera, freshman business major, said she uses her laptop a lot on campus.

She said she has been able to connect since the second week of school, but added that she had problems getting connected while she was in Redwood Hall, formerly the Kinesiology Building.

Fitzgerald said that when the university first started its work with wireless Internet it focused on the outside of some buildings, particularly in front of the Oviatt Library. He added that the strength of connection decreases with signal-blocking walls as compared with open areas.

Sun Hun, senior mechanical engineering major, said a person simply needs to know “the cold and hot spots” to get connected.

He said that since he walks a lot, he knows where to get connected. He said that in Juniper Hall the connection is about the same everywhere. He said the wireless system in even the campus parking lots worked.

Bill Hardy, director of user support services in ITR, said ITR would provide priority services to students regarding technical issues. He added that the services should be available by the second week of January and will be an ongoing service that they will provide along with ITR University Help Desk.

“We would have technicians (and) the walk-in would be staffed,” Hardy said. “(Technicians) would be able to help students and make them a priority. The technicians would help them with technical issues, such as being connected with the wireless system.”

Keith Blaine, coordinator for information systems in RCR, said the wireless system network has been in place since last summer for dorm residents, though he said that it is “still in the works.”

“For student housing, there are two ways of connecting to the system: wired and wireless network,” he said. “No matter what, (residents) still have access.”

Both, Hardy and Fitzgerald, said the wireless systems are more accessible and give individuals more mobility, but added that the wired connection has extra speed and is faster.

Blaine said that software that measures the signal strengths of APs and will make wireless services more manageable has been purchased specifically for Student Housing residents.

Blaine said buildings one through nine were recently re-wired, and they will work on buildings 10 through 15. He said the repositioning of the connections on the remaining buildings would be completed within the next month and a half, based on his estimate.

He said that he received some complaints about the connection. He said since the wireless system has been in place since last summer, it has been continuously experimented with to get even better connections for dorm residents.

Joanne Angeles can be reached at city@csun.edu.