College houses pilot wireless internet for new devices


Residents of some on-campus housing have participated in AirPennNet-Device trial




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Last semester, residents in Rodin and Harrison college houses, Sansom Place East and Sansom Place West received some welcome news.

The message announced the trial of AirPennNet-Device, a new Wi-Fi network enabling users to connect devices that are not compatible with AirPennNet to Penn’s wireless Internet.

Although the pilot period ends in February, AirPennNet-Device will continue to be available in these residence halls until the end of the school year.

Students in these dorms must contact a College House ITA or the Computing Resource Center in Sansom Place West to register their device before they can connect it to AirPennNet-Device.

Kindles, Nooks, Xbox 360s, PlayStation Portables and PlayStation Threes are some of the devices supported by AirPennNet-Device.

Information Systems and Computing and College House Computing are considering the number of devices registered, security incidents and current problems with the registration process as they determine whether to expand the network to other college houses.

“In all, things are going well, though the service usage is lighter than anticipated,” said Michael Palladino, associate vice president of networking and communications at ISC.

Only ninety-six people have connected a device to AirPennNet-Device so far, and 121 individual devices are registered.

However, Palladino said that users are experiencing few problems and seem generally pleased with the network.

An ITA in Harrison said the AirPennNet-Device works well, estimating that users connect to AirPennNet-Device without problem about 90 percent of the time and that most users’ problems are easily fixed.

College sophomore Daniel Nyakora, who lives in Sansom West, uses the network to connect his Samsung SP tablet to the Internet. He describes the setup process as “nothing complicated.”

He added that, in terms of speed, he “cannot tell the difference” between AirPennNet-Device and AirPennNet.

Connecting his tablet to AirPennNet-Device has also solved some minor issues that he has experienced in the past. When he had several devices connected to AirPennNet, they would periodically disconnect from the network. Since his tablet is connected to a second network, this has not happened again.

In the meantime, students who live in other college houses have found ways to get around this issue.

For example, students can download books onto their computers, then transfer them to e-readers.

Connecting a PSP or a Nintendo DS to the Internet, however, requires a bit more ingenuity. One College sophomore, who asked to remain anonymous, said students can turn their computers into Wi-Fi hotspots to connect non-supported devices wirelessly to the internet or set up wireless printers.

However, this may not be allowed by AirPennNet’s Acceptable Use of Electronic Resources policy, which prohibits “unauthorized wiring, including attempts to create unauthorized network connections, or any unauthorized extension or re-transmission of any computer or network services.”

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