Gabriella Ianiro Staff Writer
College students who dorm on campus have made a new home for themselves, one they presume is equipped with wireless Internet connection. However, because of housing infrastructure and cost of wireless devices, there isn’t any Wi-Fi in student dorm rooms at Post.
The residential halls are constructed in a traditional way with concrete walls in order to protect the building from the elements. However, these concrete walls are not so conducive to wireless router signals, creating challenges for the University when it comes to providing students Wi-Fi in their dorms, according to Nancy Marksbury, the deputy chief information officer for Information Technology (IT).
“Access points that generate the Wi-Fi signal are blocked by the construction of the building,” said Marksbury.
Marksbury explained that while most residential routers are relatively inexpensive, an enterprise-grade infrastructure (programs that ensure certified products meet performance requirements applications) that supports the dorms wireless Internet network costs $700-$1,200 per device. The cost of these devices is one of the reasons why the dorms don’t have Wi-Fi.
The University has done testing of various configurations of Wi-Fi coverage, and has found that a single access point for every third room is required to provide sufficient signal. “This represents a significant financial investment for the campus we have not yet been able to fund,” she said.
Students often ask why they can’t simply bring a router from home. “Since we don’t have Wi-Fi in the dorms we need to use an Ethernet cord, since we aren’t allowed to bring our own Wi-Fi connection,” said junior Public Relations major, Alyssa Yanuzzi, who dorms in Riggs Hall with one other roommate. “My friend tried to bring in her own router and had it taken away,” she added.
Some dorm rooms only have one Ethernet cord for the students to connect with. There can be up to four students in one room, according to Yanuzzi. She has one cord in her dorm and the length of the cord, Yanuzzi says, determines how far you can move your laptop once connected.
Some students, according to Marksbury, bring their own routers but this creates problems. “These brought-from-home routers tend to mirror the Internet protocol address of a nearby device, and we have seen this mirroring corrupt an entire floor or building,” she said.
“Students can purchase Ethernet cords for about $15,” said junior Broadcasting major Vaughn Allen, who lives in Nassau Hall. He explained that this might be necessary if students wanted to do their homework in their dorm and find they need a cord.
For those that are unable to obtain an Ethernet cord, “students can go to the second floor of Nassau Hall to the lounge where there is free Wi-Fi connection,” Allen added.
In addition to exploring access point reach, IT has also worked with the Office of Residence Life to establish mini computer lounges in several of the residence halls. These mini lounges are equipped with 2-4 desktop computers and these rooms do have wireless accessibility. In addition to the Ethernet connections in the dorms, each residence hall lobby also has a wireless Internet signal.
“Wi-Fi availability throughout the campus has been a priority for Information Technology, and specifically, Wi-Fi in the residence halls is something we all wish to accomplish,” said Marksbury. The IT staff is interested in meeting with a student-empaneled group to explore the possibilities of bringing Wi-Fi to the dorms.