Emory Report
February 14, 2005
Volume 57, Number 19


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February 14, 2005
Wireless Net access spreading across Emory

BY Eric Rangus

Internet access on campus no longer requires a cable. After many months of testing and years of research before that, Network Communications has outfitted Woodruff Library with 52 wireless access points, giving Emory users the freedom to work online without being tethered to a wall.

“It’s very exciting to offer today’s technology to Emory in order to take us into the future,” said Dawn Francis-Chewning, manager of coordinator services for NetCom. She has been working for the last few years on the wireless project, which teams NetCom with the Information Technology Division (ITD).

The prevalence of laptop computers, where portability is an asset, is just one of the many reasons why finding a wireless solution for the whole campus has been a NetCom priority.

Wireless access, however, is not new to Emory. NetCom sponsored a trial run at the Orthopaedics and Spine Center, for example. Several departments and units have enjoyed ad hoc wireless access for quite a while, but the connections were not reliable. With the NetCom system, those access points will disappear as the centralized system provides much broader coverage and more reliable support.

Francis-Chewning said security with Emory’s system is a potential issue—as it would be with any wireless system—but NetCom has taken several steps to ensure confidential data transmission. Those steps include a login system and identity authentication, and data is encrypted in the air to prevent eavesdropping. Wireless access points and routers on campus not issued by NetCom do not necessarily have these extra security features.

In addition to the library, the Dobbs Center and Dooley’s Den at the Depot have been outfitted for wireless connectivity. Cox Hall should be ready in the near future, and the Student Activity and Athletic Center (SAAC) on the Clairmont Campus is targeted for wireless before the end of the month. The Health Sciences Center Library and (proving a roof is not required for connectivity) the Quadrangle will follow. Each of these high-traffic areas has been designated as a “hot spot” by the administration and is a top priority for access.

Some of the present and future wireless points (such as the library, Cox Hall, the SAAC and the Quad) are considered “common areas” by NetCom. Individual departments can order wireless access through NetCom; installation is $1,250 per access point (a minimum of two is strongly urged) and the monthly maintenance fee is $72. Each access point covers an area of about 2,500 square feet. Costs will vary for each wireless installation, and an estimated price is provided prior to installation.

To request installation or obtain further information, customers are asked to send e-mail to NetCom.Wireless @emory.net. Standing in line, though, might be necessary. Since the availability of wireless access was announced, NetCom has received many requests for departmental service. Those requests will be addressed in order of submission after the campus hot spots have been serviced. The processing of new requests has already begun on a limited basis.

“We will forge ahead as requests are received,” Francis-Chewning said. “We just ask for patience and understanding while we gain momentum.”