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Drexel University students soon will be able to read their e-mail from the sidelines of a basketball game.

This fall, the entire Drexel campus -- with the exception of the dormitories -- will be outfitted with wireless Internet connections.

"You have effectively all the services in the network from anywhere you want to," Drexel Vice President of Information Resources and Technology John Bielec said of the new technology.

Drexel President Constantine Papadakis announced the initiative at the school's commencement on June 10.

"A CyberCampus will improve our students' overall college experience by giving them greater freedom and mobility," Papadakis said in a press release.

Drexel already has wireless capabilities in some classrooms and its library, student center and business school. Students can check out a university-owned laptop with wireless capability.

Bielec estimated that the wireless overhaul would cost the university from $600,000 to $650,000. The effort is expected to be completed by this fall.

To become completely wireless, the university will install adapters the size of smoke detectors throughout campus.

Student computers can be outfitted for wireless connectivity with a card much like an ethernet adapter. The cards cost approximately $175, Bielec said.

The wireless network relays -- which can be installed on the sides of buildings -- then serve as access points for the wireless adapter cards.

"It's almost like cell phone technology," Bielec explained.

But while Drexel will soon be a wireless "cybercampus," Penn has no current plans to follow its neighbor.

According to University Associate Vice President for Information Services and Computing Michael Palladino, the size of Penn's campus makes going entirely wireless a very expensive prospect.

"For a campus-wide implementation, it would cost around $10 million," he explained.

However, Palladino added that the university is talking to several vendors about a smaller-scale implementation of the technology.

Palladino said that as Penn expands, it might be easier and cheaper to connect new buildings to the network through a wireless connection rather than installing hundreds of feet of expensive network cable.

And he said the University is talking with different vendors about installing wireless technology in the "pockets of the school where its valuable," like the library or certain retail centers.

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