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Internet hot spots get boost on campus
North Georgia aims to expand wireless access from classrooms to residence halls
Ben Jackson, 18, and David Kahle, 19, use the wireless network outside the Hoag Student Center on Thursday afternoon at North Georgia College & State University. - photo by Robin Michener Nathan


Heather Gibbons, Brenau University's associate vice president for information technology and online studies, comments on the wireless coverage of Brenau's Gainesville campus.
DAHLONEGA — North Georgia College & State University plans to expand its wireless network during the next several months.

The work, expected to be completed in the fall, will provide most of the campus with wireless coverage, said Bryson Payne, chief information officer.

"We’ve been focusing first on the areas that students use most," he said. "Our goal is to have a robust, user-friendly wireless network connection available any place that students would reasonably expect to be able to use a laptop or other wireless device."

A few limited-use wireless hot spots have been available on campus for several years, but access to those was restricted to specific events or to NGCSU users only.

The areas most frequented by students — Hoag Student Center, Stewart Library, Dunlap Hall and Newton Oakes Center — and classroom areas acquired the service in January.

The next phase of work began this month and involves expanding coverage to nonacademic buildings, including common areas in residence halls.

Antennas will likely be added in the summer near common areas and at the new plaza outside the Stewart Library.

The college plans to finish the project after the completion of the $23.2 million Library Technology Center in the fall.

Other area colleges have moved or are moving toward more wireless coverage.

"We have wireless access in our student centers in both of our main buildings in Oakwood as well as the library and the board room," said Justin Bridges, spokesman for Lanier Technical College in Oakwood. "We also have wireless access in and around the media center" on the Forsyth campus.

Heather Gibbons, Brenau University’s associate vice president for information technology and online studies, said Brenau improved its wireless coverage after Ed Schrader arrived as president in January 2005.

The college doesn’t have "blanket" coverage, allowing students to lounge under trees with laptop computers. But the network does cover "hot spots," or the places most likely for wireless use, Gibbons said.

Brandon Haag, executive director of information technology at Gainesville State College in Oakwood, said the school completed a wireless network rollout in the fall of 2005 that covered all classrooms and many campus common areas.

"The wireless network is available across both the Gainesville and Oconee campuses," Haag said. "... Access to the wireless network is controlled using a student’s log-in credentials."

North Georgia’s expansion is the result of students saying they believed that wireless networking was a priority.

The Student Government Association, the University Technology Committee and the Student Technology Fee Committee are using student technology fees for the project.

"The committees involved in bringing the wireless network to reality made it clear that guest access was a priority, from prospective students to visiting lecturers," Payne said.

A network access control system will be added beginning in March.

This will give priority bandwidth and access to campus resources — such as the network drives — to NGCSU faculty, staff and students when they log on to the wireless service with their Novell identification and password.

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