Wireless will be available for all undergraduate residence halls by the end of summer 2012.
Vice President of Campus Services Scott Wright said that housing services, in conjunction with Columbia University Information Technology, will establish wireless access in several of the upperclassman dorms currently lacking Wi-Fi during the summer of 2011, while the remaining buildings will be set up the following summer.
CUIT intends to provide wireless in 47 Claremont, East Campus, Schapiro, and Harmony next summer and Carman, Furnald, John Jay, the Living-Learning Center, and the brownstones the summer after.
But Wright stressed that the timeline is tentative due to potential unanticipated roadblocks with the physical infrastructure within the residence halls. Housing plans to release a final list of residence halls that will have wireless access sometime in February.
Overall, Wright anticipates the project will cost around two million dollars.
“We’re talking about 36 properties, 18 brownstones, 18 residence halls. It’ll bring wireless to roughly 5,500 students.” Wright said. “To me, it’s well worth putting the money aside to do.”
Plans to make Columbia’s residence halls wireless have been going on for a while. Originally Wright had hoped to provide wireless by the end of this academic year. But Columbia adjusted the timeline because of the difficulties of modifying the physical infrastructure of residence halls while students are there.
“I wanted it to be done this year, but it just wasn’t physically possible to get all the work done with the current occupancy plan for all the residence halls,” Wright said. “So we revised our completion deadline to being at the end of the summer of 2012.”
Presently, nine Columbia dorms have wireless incorporated. Broadway, which had Wi-Fi set up the summer of 2008, was the first residence hall to receive wireless. Watt, Hogan, McBain, River, Wien, Ruggles, Woodbridge, and 600 West 113th Street all received Wi-Fi last summer.
Kenny Durell, CC ’12, a representative last year in Columbia College Student Council who is now a University senator on the Senate technology committee, has been actively involved with the efforts to establish wireless.
“It’s been an issue for a long time. It’s been an issue at least since 2007 but probably more further back than that,” Durell said.
Durell, citing student interest in wireless, says that Wi-Fi access has been an important priority for CCSC. However, Durell also says that CCSC did not dedicate much attention to the issue because CCSC had little power over the initiative.
“CUIT made this decision independent from CCSC,” Durell said. “It really was just one day we came in and they [CUIT] were like, yep, we’re finally getting wireless in dorms.”
Krizia Lopez, CC ’13, is a current resident of McBain. Lopez says that before coming to Columbia, she had assumed that she would get wireless access living at John Jay and that, consequently, she couldn’t get internet in her dorm the first two weeks of school.
Lopez said, “Last year I had to rely on someone else’s internet router on my floor. … I made a deal with him, gave him five dollars, and was able to use his wireless.”
This year at McBain, although the dorm has wireless access, Lopez says that she still likes to have ethernet because she believes it’s faster. However, Lopez says, Columbia’s wired internet has been inconvenient.
“This year for me, the ethernet is under my roommate’s bed.” Lopez said. “So I literally have to cut the room in half with my ethernet cable.”
Matt Horwitz, CC ’13 and a Hartley resident, adds, “Ethernet is as restrictive as tighty-whities.”
Durell, a resident of Ruggles Hall, has had few problems with his wireless, remarking, “This is the fastest wireless server I’ve ever had in my life.”
However, Durell also added that some dorms had faster wireless than others.
Durell rated the timeliness of CUIT’s efforts to establish wireless as “excellent,” citing the progress that has been made with wireless access since offering it in Broadway in 2008.
“There’s no wireless; now there is. Literally, it’s an infinite amount of change,” Durell said.
Wright mentioned that Broadway had its wireless systems upgraded last summer as well.
Wright said, “We wanted to avoid a scenario where we needed to have both upgrades to wireless and hardwire infrastructure going on into the future.”
Belle Yan, CC ’12 and a resident of Broadway, said, “If I need to do a project with my friend in another room, I can go in there without worrying both of us not having wireless.”
Yan adds, “I can bring my computer anywhere, I don’t have to worry about ethernet cords.”
“I don’t trip as often anymore.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said that Kenny Durell was on the CCSC technology committee. He is on the University Senate technology committee. Spectator regrets the error.