OIT implements wireless network
By MATT BRAMANTI
In response to new developments in technology, Notre Dame's Office of Information Technologies has been installing wireless networking across campus over the past couple of years.
The wireless fidelity system, abbreviated as "Wi-Fi," uses radio waves to establish network connections without users having to plug their computers into a wall jack.
Dewitt Latimer, chief technology officer, said that "Wi-Fi" — or wireless fidelity—allows areas on campus to be networked quickly and cost-effectively.
"It's definitely not expensive," Laitmer said. "It's one of those high-yield investments."
Latimer said that the networking initiative has been targeted at high-traffic areas on campus, including the Hesburgh Library, Reckers and LaFortune, which offer connections to hundreds of users simultaneously.
"We're hitting those areas that give us the biggest bang for the buck," he said.
Latimer said that some academic buildings have wireless access, including sections of the Mendoza College of Business, Riley Hall, Fitzpatrick and Cushing Halls and the Law School.
He said that OIT has been working in close consultation with University deans to plan further expansion.
"Deans can come to OIT and recommend areas [to install wireless]," Latimer said. "They know their buildings better than we do, and they know where people congregate."
However, the deans have had some reservations about the wireless system. "There are concerns among faculty members that wireless could be a distraction," Klimek said. "We're being very sensitive to the faculty's thoughts."
Despite those concerns, OIT is continuing to expand the wireless system. Tom Klimek, manager of network services for OIT, said that about 80 access points or "hot spots" are currently in place, with another 100 planned for deployment this summer. Each hot spot can accommodate about 25-40 users within about 300 feet of the antenna, Klimek said.
He added that the expansion of the wireless system is intended to extend coverage over a wider physical area, not just to increase capacity. "We haven't run into capacity issues," he said.
Latimer said that OIT is working quickly to increase the network's coverage area and projects that some 250 access points will be installed every semester. "That's about how many our staff can put in," he said.
Latimer also addressed concerns that wireless networks do not provide an adequate level of security for potentially sensitive data. He admitted that wireless systems are susceptible to hacking, but said that OIT has been working to protect users' privacy and security.
"We're treating the wired and wireless infrastructure the same, as insecure," he said. "We use encryption with any application that may transmit sensitive data."
He also said that the OIT educates users on the system's benefits and drawbacks. "We want to have a resource that helps the user understand what wireless can and can't do," Latimer said.
All News Stories for Thursday, April 17, 2003