Central goes wireless over break

Central Campus is finally wireless.

The Office of Information Technology installed more than 300 wireless access points on the campus over the course of five days during Winter Break. The access points-taken from other areas of Duke's campus-provide connection with a maximum speed of 54 megabytes per second to Central apartments, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens and the Nasher Museum of Art, OIT officials said Tuesday. The moves will not affect wireless quality at the previous locations.

The 200-acre network supports the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' current 802.11g protocol, but is compatible with the newer and faster 802.11n protocol that was installed last summer on East and West campuses.

"Central was one of the last few pieces that really required wireless accessibility," said Campus Council Vice President Kevin Thompson, a senior. "It's just good to know that people on West, Central and East can have the same resources and amenities."

The upgrade of wireless networks on East and West was delayed until the end of last summer, which caused the Central deployment to be pushed back until Winter Break, said Bob Johnson, OIT's senior director of communications infrastructure. Although wireless networks on East and West were upgraded over the summer, installation over Winter Break was a better option for Central because all the dorms were vacated, said Terry Lynch, Residence Life and Housing Services' assistant dean for staff development and Central Campus.

"Central Campus was for whatever reason at the tail-end of the installation," Johnson said. "We ran into a problem with the delivery of the [access points] themselves. We didn't have enough time or inventory to complete Central Campus over the summer."

The routers were installed in two to three apartments per building while students were away for the holidays. Lynch informed Central residents of the wireless installation Dec. 8.

Deploying wireless routers on the campus was necessary because of the constraints apartment-style living creates for students when connecting to the Internet, Lynch said.

"For Central Campus, you had to have a personal router in order to get wireless in your apartment," he said, noting that East commons rooms have wireless, as do the commons rooms and parts of dorms on West.

OIT officials are now discouraging students from using their personal routers, because it creates interference problems with the Duke network.

Cisco Systems partnered with Duke last year to provide more than 2,500 access points covering more than 6 million square feet that support the 802.11n protocol. The University enhanced its network on East and West campuses last summer by installing Cisco Aironet 1250 access points, a newer router that has a maximum speed of 300 Mbps. The routers that they replaced had a maximum speed of 108 Mbps.

Johnson said OIT aims for 95 percent coverage indoors. He added that the office's next step is to improve coverage outdoors.


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