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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Missing links in UAWiFi

Lisa Beth Earle / Arizona Daily Wildcat 

According to the University Technology Information Services website, UA WiFi is available in 80 buildings on campus, yet much of campus remains without wireless internet access.
Lisa Beth Earle
Lisa Beth Earle / Arizona Daily Wildcat According to the University Technology Information Services website, UA WiFi is available in 80 buildings on campus, yet much of campus remains without wireless internet access.

The UAWiFi and UAPublic networks give students, faculty and guests to the UA campus educational and recreational opportunities through free Internet access. However, about 25 percent of the UA campus remains uncovered by UAWiFi.

The wireless data network began covering the campus in January 2007 with only a few access locations and has since been expanding coverage based on usage and student population, according to Derek Masseth, senior director of infrastructure services.

“”In the initial deployment of UAWiFi, we focused on the buildings with a lot of student population, such as libraries, major classrooms and the Memorial Student Union,”” Masseth said. “”It has been a rolling process. We covered one building, then the next and the next.””

The University Information Technology Services website specifically addresses the limited coverage and states that the time frame for expanding coverage depends on money.

“”Coverage depends exclusively on budget. The most substantial hurdle is our budget and the availability of funds,”” Masseth said.

Providing the UA population with wireless Internet access has not been cheap. According to Masseth, about $8.2 million has been spent deploying UAWiFi and UAPublic from January 2007 to May 2010.

The lack of connectivity in a quarter of the campus has not gone unnoticed by students.

When students are unable to connect to the Internet in a classroom or residence hall, many problems arise, such as delays in class activities and homework.

“”When I’m trying to get stuff done when I go over to University Boulevard to eat, it becomes a hassle because of the limited coverage,”” said Stephanie Ruehl, a chemical engineering sophomore.

In this instance, however, the main obstacle in the way of coverage is not availability of funds, but rather ownership.

“”For the most part, University Boulevard is not covered by UAWiFi west of Park Avenue,”” Masseth said. “”There are spaces we do have UAWiFi installed in that area that may carry over into some of the restaurants there, but we do not explicitly have the authority to cover those establishments.””

Restaurants and stores on University Boulevard may provide their own wireless connection apart from that of the UA. The Cereal Boxx is one of the restaurants that offer free WiFi to patrons.

Masseth said UITS gets requests from students and faculty to expand coverage on a certain building about quarterly. A list of buildings and locations that remain uncovered by UAWiFi was unavailable at press time.

Although the lack of coverage causes problems for some, there are students who have remained unaware of UAWiFi’s limitations on campus.

“”I haven’t heard of the lack of coverage, nor have I been affected by it, but I can imagine the problems this poses since so many classes have online components of some sort,”” said Anthony Basilio, a pre-business sophomore.

The UITS website states that all areas of campus will eventually be covered by UAWiFi and UAPublic.

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