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UTSA to go wireless as AirRowdy takes off

(April 20, 2004)--As UTSA prepares to augment the use of information technology throughout the learning experience, plans are underway to implement Wi-Fi, or Wireless Fidelity technologies, at UTSA.

"This is a crucial component of UTSA's Teaching and Learning Initiative," said UTSA President Ricardo Romo. "Students increasingly use WebCT, the Internet and other online resources in their coursework, and the development of wireless campuses will allow everyone in the university community greater access to technology and additional learning tools."

In its final stages of construction, UTSA's new Main Building (Academic Building III) will be the first building to incorporate an LWAN (Local Wireless Area Network). By June, both Sombrilla Plaza and the Business Building will be wireless, enabling students, faculty and staff to make use of Wi-Fi "hot spots."

Hot spots are areas where individuals can access the university's network if their laptops have appropriate wireless network capabilities. In these areas, authorized computer users can log on to a public segment of the network, tentatively named AirRowdy, and access online applications such as Banner/ASAP, library resources, WebCT and the Internet.

During the summer and early fall, hot spots will be implemented in buildings at the Downtown Campus and the University Center, the library and the Recreation and Wellness Center at the 1604 Campus.

"The design strategy we are using is based upon building a service that is student-focused," said David Johnson, executive vice provost and chairman of the Learning and Technology Initiative. "We hope to have hot spots in most public areas where students may wish to study using their laptops to gain access to the network, such as cafeterias and lounge areas."

"For security reasons, wireless access will not be available for some administrative applications," said Jeffrey W. Noyes, CIO and associate vice president for information technology. "In the very near future, we will publish recommended guidelines and configurations for laptop computers so students, faculty and staff can best prepare to gain access to the wireless network."

Due to cost considerations, the university will not provide blanket coverage at all campus locations to wireless networks. However, it is planned that AirRowdy will be available at most of the campuses, classrooms and public areas within about a year.

--David Gabler

University Communications
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