The Internet has become more important for most college students. On most college campuses, there are only wireless access points in certain areas. At Texas Wesleyan however, every building has the potential for wireless access.

 

“About a year and a half ago we received the ability to get wireless access points located in certain areas around campus,” Kendra Ketchum, director of IT infrastructure services, said. “Early last year we did an assessment and we realized that we had forty percent of the campus that didn’t have wireless what so ever.”

 

In early April of last year, Ketchum said she and her coworkers completed a project that included adding wireless access points to areas that didn’t have wireless coverage.

 

“In early June, we determined [that we would] now do an assessment of our infrastructure to determine where those weak points are,” Ketchum said.

 

A team of engineers did a site survey, which required them to stand in almost every room of the residential spaces, office spaces and common spaces with laptops to determine where the wireless coverage is and how large the perimeter of the particular access point would go, Ketchum said. She said the team of engineers spent all summer figuring out where the weak points were in the buildings. They also got a better understanding of some of the things that would interfere with the wireless signals.

 

“Something as silly as a poster on a wall, a closet full of clothes,” she said. “All of those are barriers to a signal.”

 

Brick walls can also be a barrier to the signals, she said.

 

After spending all summer doing the project, all the weak points were found and new access points were purchased to be put into the weak spots, especially in the residential areas to get wireless capability up to 100 percent, Ketchum said.

 

Ketchum also said last fall, the engineers came back to figure out how to strengthen the wireless capabilities while students were on campus.

 

“I wanted to know, worst case scenario, with every room filled, with every closet filled, how far [would] the signal go,” Ketchum said.

 

The engineers confirmed that all the residential areas had good signals, with the exception of Wesleyan Village. Eventually, six new wireless access points will be added to get Wesleyan Village up to 100 percent wireless coverage.

 

Ketchum and the engineers also did a security assessment to make sure Wesleyan’s wireless network was safe. After a few adjustments were made, the network was completely secure.

 

“We are looking at some newer technology regarding our [wireless] network as well,” Gregg Flowers, networking operations major, said.

 

Flowers said originally, some students didn’t like having to log on when accessing Texas Wesleyan’s wireless network, and although they no longer have to do that, it is still important that there be some way to register devices connecting to the network.

 

“We’ve learned a lot about our infrastructure, but more importantly, we had to learn about the students’ habits,” Ketchum said. “We’re here to support the students and to insure that they have the technology they need to be successful.”

 

Ketchum said theoretically, at this point, students should be able to log on to the wireless network from one side of the campus, and walk to the other without losing the signal.

 

Ketchum and Flowers both said while the IT department doesn’t police the usage of the wireless network, they want to encourage students to use it responsibly. If one person were to get a virus and then log onto the network, everyone else on the network would be susceptible.

 

Ketchum said annually, students bring at between six to eight devices to school. Making sure the students can access the Internet from all of those devices is the top priority of the IT department.

 

“In the last year and a half I would say we’ve advanced 14 years in technology,” Ketchum said.

 

Gates Lopez, freshman mass communications major, said he has noticed the wireless is better in some places than others.

 

“The library is like the center of the wireless network,” Lopez said. “You can get on it, but it is time consuming.”

 

By Tristian Evans

 

tkevans1098@txwes.edu

 

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