Wireless Internet access available at Norris

Marisa Maldonado

Laptop users with the right hardware no longer have to search for Internet ports at Norris University Center.

Norris started on Monday a six-month trial of a system that enables any laptop with a network interface card to access the Internet without plugging into a portal.

Laptop users will be able to use the service at the lounge on the main floor, the 1999 dining room and the Gathering Place. Norris administrators said the service cost a few thousand dollars to implement.

“This really is a trial to see how much interest is expressed by people,” said Tom Board, director of Technology Support Services. “We’re looking to see how this group of people – university students – utilizes it.”

Board said students would need to install the card to use the system, because almost no computers come with it already installed.

The cards will be sold at Norris Center Bookstore by mid-May at the latest and will cost between $170 and $180 each, said Dan Posas, the store’s manager.

Megumi Shii, a Medill graduate student said the high cost of installing the card would keep her from using it.

“It is pretty expensive,” Shii said. “If it were $50, maybe.”

Weinberg senior Karen Sandler said she saw a similar wireless system while visiting Stanford Law School.

“Their regular system was down,” she said. “But there was one person in the classroom who was on the wireless Web.”

But Sandler said Norris might not be the best place to install this system.

“It seems like a poor use of technological resources,” she said. “There’s plenty of networked computers at Norris and the library.”

Montaign Gamino, a Medill graduate student, said the library would be a better place to install the system because it is more conducive to studying. But putting the system in Norris does have its advantages, he said.

“Wireless is good for group meetings,” he said. “Norris is great for that. You can’t really have a group meeting in the library. (And) it frees up having to be dependent on the computers in the Dell study lounge.”

But Speech sophomore Matt Abts said slower access on a wireless system would make it less convenient.

“If the speed was anything less than what I have here now, I definitely wouldn’t be interested at all,” he said.

The new system is one of NU’s three key projects in Internet 2, a nationwide effort to improve computer applications on college campuses. Other projects NU Information Technology is planning include more Webcasts and a classroom in the Technological Institute with 28 laptops.