New Student Edition 2006 - The Michigan Daily - 15C
LSA buildings lag behind in campus wireless coverage
By Michael Kan
Daily Staff Reporter
Something's missing in most of LSA freshman
Lauren Boumaroun's classrooms. That something -
wireless Internet - is preventing her from obtaining
notes during lectures.
"Many classrooms and lecture halls are limited in
wireless access," Boumaroun said. "And sometimes
it's nice to be able to access the Internet during class
to get lecture notes and such."
Like many students on campus, Boumaroun carries
a laptop equipped to receive wireless Internet access.
From the Business and Law Schools to North Cam-
pus, the University has covered the interiors of many
of its buildings with wi-fi hotspots. The hot spots are
less common in LSA buildings.
Although wireless coverage is slowly expanding,
budget cuts and the size of LSA's footprint on campus
have hindered the school on its path to achieve com-
plete wireless internet access over its buildings.
HOW WIRELESS ARE WE?
Both Intel and the Princeton Review conduct annu-
al surveys to rate which colleges in the nation are
the most wireless. On both surveys, the University is
Despite the lack of complete coverage, University
administrators hail the progress that has been made
on the wireless front. They say the colleges with the
greatest need for the technology can access wireless
Internet anywhere in their buildings.
Aside from dorms and outdoor areas, wireless
Internet covered only about 58 percent of the major
buildings on campus as of last summer.
Some information technology administrators esti-
mate wireless Internet will span the entire campus by
2008 or 2009.
In the Business, Law and Engineering schools,
widespread wireless development began in 2000.
In LSA, the University began deploying wireless
networks in its buildings a little more than a year ago.
The discrepancy in coverage stems from each
school having the autonomy to develop its networks as
it sees fit, said Andrew Palms, the University's direc-
tor of information technology.
"Wireless follows the same model as any other
financial expenditure of the University," Palms said.
With no central initiative to dictate deployment,
it's up to each school to determine what role wireless
Internet will take for them.
For the Business School, which installed one of
the first wireless networks at the University in 1997,
equipping its buildings with wireless Internet was an
Ed Adams, chief technology officer at the Busi-
ness School, said as the curriculum began encourag-
ing students to use laptops during classes, the school's
administrators pushed for the expansion of wireless
"Because we have very old facilities, wired jacks
weren't feasible," Adams said. "Wireless was just a
At a cost of about $60,000, the Business School
has installed all their buildings with coverage. Other
schools have done the same, seizing the need for wire-
less Internet access early on. LSA decided to wait.
LSA'S PATH TO WIRELESS
LSA's wireless strategy hinged on deploying the
technology once it matured to the point that it could
be installed on a wider scale for a cheaper price, said
Michael McPherson, special counselor to the Univer-
sity provost. .
McPherson, the former director of information
technology for LSA, said once the demand for the
technology became apparent in 2004, administrators
decided to begin deploying a network in their school's
But with the declining state budget funds, McPher-
son said LSA's wireless development "has gotten cut,
just like everything else."
"Whether you think that's a problem or not depends
if you think it's a high priority to have a wireless net-
work on campus," he said.
After spending $175,000 to install wireless Inter-
net, LSA still has a long way to go in its bid to outfit
the largest school on campus with the technology.
"In LSA, there is more of a conservative approach
just because of the sheer size," said Ron Loveless,
senior manager for LSA information technology.
"Due to competing projects for limited funds we
cannot place (wireless) into all LSA buildings, class-
rooms and grounds space between the buildings at one
time," he added. "The cost to do so would be in the
millions of dollars."
Each wireless Internet router costs about $1,000 to
$1,200 - far more expensive than the wireless routers
available for homes. But more users can connect to it
and its signals span farther.
Loveless said LSA has been installing wireless
networks incrementally in the commons and meet-
ing areas in the buildings that students frequent.
This year, LSA plans to deploy a wireless network
in the Undergraduate Science Building, the reno-
vated LSA building and possibly even the Denni-
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
"In the ideal world with unlimited funding, I
would put wireless across all of LSA," Loveless
said. "At the Business School and some of the
other schools they have it all across. But we just
have pockets of it."
LSA sophomore Jim Schreiber said that while the
pace of wireless development has been slow, students
need to realize the difficulties in deploying a wireless
Schreiber, who is part of a committee of faculty
members and administrators that makes recommen-
dation on technology to LSA, said the costs of rapidly
deploying wireless across all LSA buildings would be
"There is a list of things that we can spend money
on. Would the students benefit the most from this?"
- This article originally ran on Feb. 7,
2006 as the frst part of a three-part series.