Ethernet cables may soon be a thing of the past on campus.
Penn's 11 college houses will feature wireless Internet access in every room as early as next fall, Penn President Amy Gutmann announced yesterday.
In an installation process that will cost the University an estimated $700,000, wireless Web access will be available in all bedrooms in each dormitory on campus.
Installation will begin after Commencement in May and last all summer. Gutmann said she expects the system to be up and running by the time students are back on campus in September of next year.
Wired connections will still be available in each room. The new system, Gutmann said, is intended simply to make Internet access more convenient.
"If you think about our society and the mobility of our society, this clearly seems the direction that we should be heading," said Vice President of Information Systems and Computing Robin Beck, who will oversee the installation.
Gutmann said she decided to go forward with the initiative after seeing the results of an informal student survey conducted by Beck's office, in which 87 percent of 659 respondents said they wanted wireless Internet access in dorms.
And now that Gutmann has given the plan a green light, several students say the benefits of wireless Internet access will be worth the cost.
"Considering how much the University has and how much they could possibly be spending on us, a million dollars [for installation] doesn't seem like that much to make this more convenient," Engineering freshman Jeff Tornick said.
Gutmann said the money for the installation will primarily come from cutting costs in the Office of the Executive Vice President, the Department of Housing and Conference Services and Information Systems and Computing.
"They have helped me find the money to make this happen," Gutmann said. "My decision was that we should find the resources to do it if at all possible because student input was really strong" in favor of wireless Internet access.
"It didn't take long to figure out a way to do this," Gutmann added.
The new system will require about 500 wireless access points, which will primarily be installed in dormitory hallways, Beck said.
Beck added that she did not yet know which company would provide the access points or installation services. The formal planning process will begin in January, at which point Gutmann said she would have a more refined price estimate.
Students will be able to log into the wireless network -- the same system that has been used in major University libraries, academic buildings and dormitory study areas since 2002 -- using their PennKey and password.
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