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Lowell, Winthrop Still Without Wireless

By James S. Davis, Crimson Staff Writer

Software updates and a network reorganization have hampered the College’s efforts to install wireless network access in Lowell and Winthrop Houses on schedule, according to computer services officials.

The two remaining Houses will not have wireless capability until some time in the coming spring semester, said Coordinator of Residential Computing Kevin S. Davis ’98.

Harvard Arts and Sciences Computer Services (HASCS) has been installing wireless access capability in the Houses since the summer of 2002, said Frank Steen, director of HASCS.

By mid-November HASCS had installed wireless access in at least one public space in 10 out of the 12 Houses, Steen said.

Davis said the installations in Lowell and Winthrop have been delayed by two technological “snags” HASCS has run into as they’ve continued the campus-wide wireless initiative.

Cisco Systems, the manufacturer of the wireless access points through which computers connect to the network, recently issued an updated operating system which HASCS must comply with, according to Davis.

Davis also said the delay is partly due to a restructuring of the network, including an expansion of its IP address range.

While this reorganization is going on, he said, wireless installation will be put on hold in Lowell and Winthrop Houses.

Steen said that aside from delays relating directly to the wireless technology, the installation procedure has also been stalled by other factors, ranging from a new House master taking over in Winthrop to the presence of asbestos in the walls of Adams.

“Installing wireless is an enormous project and has a huge overhead,” he said.

HASCS has already put in the necessary wiring and data jacks in Lowell House, but the project has yet to be finished.

Many residents of Lowell and Winthrop said they are apathetic about wireless installation.

“I like to take my laptop to the dining hall and just be unplugged for awhile,” said Lowell resident Eli Sprecher ’05.

But Lowell resident Reva G. Pomeranz ’06 said she was disappointed in the delay.

“They promised us wireless at the beginning of the year, but they still haven’t delivered,” said Pomerantz.

House Administrator Beth Terry assured Lowell residents in the House’s weekly newsletter that although wireless service had been planned to begin in December, it would be up and running around Feb. 15.

Davis stressed that wireless network access is a convenience and will not replace the College’s current wire-based Ethernet connections.

He said wired access still has some advantages over wireless, like the faster speed of the connection.

—Staff writer James C. Davis can be reached at jcdavis@fas.harvard.edu.

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