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Currier To Pilot Wireless Access

By Reed B. Rayman, Contributing Writer

Students in Currier House will be the first to get wireless internet access in their dorms as part of a pilot program run by Harvard’s computing services, which plans to extend the access to all undergraduate housing by next fall.

The goal of the pilot project, according to Director of Residential Computing Kevin S. Davis ’98, is to test the feasibility of establishing wireless access throughout a residential building. Davis said that all the wiring should be installed in Currier House by the end of the calendar year, and that students in Currier should be able to use wireless internet in their rooms by the beginning of February.

The pilot program is the first step in achieving the College’s goal of extending wireless access to all undergraduate living space, a project that should be completed by the fall of 2005, according to Davis.

“The pilot program is important because we need to determine where we can and can’t install these devices,” said Davis, who is also a Crimson editor. “We’ve really been pleased with the progress that we’re making in the pilot project.”

Over the summer, in the first phase of Harvard’s Wireless Network Access Project, wireless access points were installed in common rooms and dining halls throughout the College. The project is installing the access points in living spaces as part of its second phase.

Davis emphasized the amount of construction that goes into installing the wireless access points in residential houses.

“It’s not like cell towers, where one tower is enough to cover a huge radius,” he said. “Wireless access points only cover 50-60 feet of space, so we have to do a lot of construction in order to cover the areas that we want to cover.”

Some students, who live in close proximity to either a common room or library—areas where wireless access points have already been installed—may already be able to access Harvard’s wireless network from their rooms.

“Some students are able to get spillover access from libraries or common rooms,” he said.

Daniel A. Stolper ’08, whose dorm is directly above a common room, said that wireless internet access in his room is already extremely strong.

“The wireless signal strength in my room is not as fast as a land line, but it’s perfectly acceptable...some rooms closer to the common room get really strong signals.”

Davis said that the project is now focused on surveying the various Houses in preparation for the actual installment of the wireless access points, which is scheduled to take place in most Houses over the summer.

“We’ve surveyed many more Houses than just the pilot House,” he said. “The next step is going in and finding time to do the construction in all the Houses without impacting the students too much.”

Many students are excited by the prospects of the final project.

“I think expanding wireless to all houses is a brilliant idea,” Sewit Teckie ’05, co-chair of the Quincy House Committee, wrote in an e-mail. “It allows students flexibility in their use of computers.”

Davis said that the College is pleased with the way that the project is progressing.

“I think students are going to see a lot of changes in place by next fall,” he said.

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