Wireless Networks Expanded at Arlington and Prince William Campuses

Posted: February 20, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

The great thing about a wireless network is that there’s nothing to see. But when you log on using your e-mail account, you’re connected to the network in an increasing number of places on the Mason Campuses.

The wireless network at George Mason’s School of Law, which was first introduced in March 2004, was expanded prior to the start of the current academic year. In addition to Hazel Hall’s previously available wireless access points in the atrium, cafeteria, courtrooms and several offices, students are now able to utilize the service from the school’s six large classrooms, which also feature wired access.

Users who have 802.11b or 802.11g-compatible wireless LAN cards and a current university e-mail account are able to access the network.

“The school is fully covered by Mason deployed wireless LAN access points,” says Derek Kan, manager of advanced network technologies in the Information Technology Unit’s (ITU) Technology Systems Division. “We wanted to increase the capacity of the wireless LAN service since there are more than 390 concurrent users using the service during the peak hours from 6 to 10 p.m.” According to Kan, on average, 171 students access the network concurrently during a typical day.

During the fall semester, for the first time, students were able to take exams on their laptops via the wireless network. Five hundred students took laptop exams, though the figures for how many chose to use the wireless network are not available. According to Deborah Keene, the School of Law’s associate dean of library and technology, computer lab use has dropped by more than 50 percent since the wireless network was made available to students.

“This year, more than 90 percent of our entering class owns a laptop,” she says. “Although we don’t have a laptop requirement, law students now see them as a necessity.”

At the Prince William Campus, network access is now available in all classrooms and open areas, the Occoquan Building, Randall’s Café, the Verizon Auditorium, Mercer Library, the Freedom Center and Bull Run Hall. Faculty offices currently do not have wireless access.

The Loudoun site has full wireless coverage.

Wireless LAN coverage is currently available in approximately 25 percent of all George Mason’s indoor space. During a normal weekday, more than 250 users access the network during peak hours, with another 400 users accessing it at other times throughout the day. ITU, which added access at the Potomac Heights student residence last fall, plans to add new access points in the university’s other residence buildings in the near future.

For a complete list of all the available wireless access points at George Mason’s campuses, visit the web site.

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