Wireless Internet available in dorms; new network offers increased security

Residence halls at TCU this school year will sport a new look, one no one can see.Starting this semester, all residence halls on campus, with the exception of Clark Hall, will support wireless Internet in common areas and individual rooms, said Tony Fleming, a senior network engineer at TCU.

The installation of wireless technology is part of a three-phase operation aimed to eventually bring wireless Internet everywhere on campus.

Technicians will next finish installing wireless Internet in academic buildings with the expectation of bringing it to common areas on campus by 2008, according to a campus-wide e-mail sent by the Computer Help Desk in May.

In addition, Fleming said TCU has switched to a new kind of network, which will upgrade security and prevent intrusions. The network features a military-style encryption used by many corporations around the country.

“We felt like we needed added security with a wireless network over such a large area on campus,” Fleming said.

Clark Hall will not support wireless Internet this semester because the building will undergo renovation starting in January, Fleming said.

Unlike other wireless areas on campus previously, such as the library, students will have to manually configure their computers to connect to the network. Fleming said students can either download instructions from the wireless Web site or visit help desks set up in residence halls or the library.

But, with a new network, some tweaking may need to be done in areas where interference can occur. Technicians got off to a rocky start in some areas where connectivity and reliability became issues, Fleming said.

Rodney Lawrence, a freshman premajor, said he experienced weak signal strength in the basement of Milton Daniel Hall.

“Sometimes the signal was so low that I couldn’t connect to it,” Lawrence said.

Carlton Stewart, a freshman pre-business major, said his wireless connection in Milton Daniel was solid.

“We’re going to have to iron out any bugs with the new wireless system,” Fleming said. “Initial testing looks good, but the students will be the final judge on how well it works.