Penn State continues to expand its wireless coverage

September 01, 2005

As popularity in the use of wireless services continues to grow, Penn State has expanded its wireless coverage areas at many campus locations. Mobility in conjunction with connectivity has become an increasingly important component in the every day lives of students, faculty and staff.

According to Rhonda Brown, director of Unit Services in Information Technology Services (ITS), each year increasingly more students arrive on campus with laptop computers. "The majority of these laptops arrive in the fall with built-in wireless capabilities," she said. "Wireless connectivity has become an expectation, not a luxury, for students at Penn State."

To address the community's growing interest in wireless, ITS provides a number of wireless access services that ensure security and ease of use across the Penn State network system. Areas that are now offering these services at University Park include: the majority of the HUB-Robeson Center; the Chemistry, IST, University Support II and Hammond buildings; the public areas within Paterno Library; and portions of the Academic Activities Building, Arts Building, Computer Building, Henderson South, Jordan Center, Old Main, Pattee Library, Patterson Building, Pavilion Theatre, Pond Lab, Rider II Building, University Support Building I, Visual Arts Building and Willard Building. Many more installations are in the planning stages at University Park including Penn State's new Business Building, the Stuckeman Family Building, the Outreach Innovation Building and Kern Building.

The College of Engineering has installed a unique wireless network that allows individuals to access the University wireless system or the College of Engineering (COE) internal wireless system in all associated buildings, based on affiliation with the COE, said William Burkhard, director of Electronics and Computer Services within the college. "We've had many positive comments from faculty who like being able to leave their building and use the college's Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access data from other COE locations." Students also enjoy the wireless access, he added. "They really like having access where they need it. The college publishes information on its wireless capability each semester, including how to connect and how to obtain the COE VPN."

In addition to University Park, many other campus locations have elected to install wireless access to benefit students, faculty and staff. These locations include: Penn State Altoona, Penn State Beaver, Penn State Berks, Penn State Delaware County, Dickinson School of Law, Penn State Behrend, Penn State Harrisburg, Penn State Hazleton, Penn State Lehigh Valley, Penn State McKeesport, Penn State Mont Alto, Penn State New Kensington, Penn State Schuylkill, Penn State Worthington Scranton and Penn State York. Future installations are planned at the Penn State Abington and Penn State DuBois campus locations. For ongoing updates on wireless availability at the University, check the Web at http://its.psu.edu/wireless/wirelesslocations.html

According to Robert Brinkley, director of Instructional and Information Technologies (IIT) at Penn State Harrisburg, the Harrisburg campus is currently in the process of expanding wireless coverage extensively throughout the campus. "Our goal is to have ubiquitous coverage during the fall of 2005 at Penn State Harrisburg," he explained. "Students are driving our expansion of the wireless service. The number one technology question asked by the students during FTCAP (First-Year Testing, Counseling and Advising Program) was, 'do you have wireless available?'"

It's inevitable that requests for broader and faster coverage will continue to grow, as more mobile devices become available, Brown added. "The University has positioned itself to leverage existing wireless deployments to create a consistent, secure wireless network for students, faculty and staff to use. The ability to communicate, interact and collaborate is essential in today's society."

For Penn State students, faculty and staff with wireless capable laptops or desktop computers, getting connected to the Penn State wireless network is a relatively easy process. Potential users should make sure they have the following items to access the Penn State Wireless Network:

1. Wireless capable laptop or desktop computer

2. The Virtual Private Network (VPN) software. VPN clients for UNIX/Linux, Windows, and Mac OSX are available via the Web at https://downloads.its.psu.edu/ (click on the "Connecting to Penn State" category). To download the VPN client via the wireless network go to https://www.work.psu.edu/vpn online. For assistance in configuring the software, go to http://aset.its.psu.edu/vpn/sampleconfig.html

3. Penn State Access Account

Upon obtaining the necessary items, users should then follow these steps:

1. Power up the computer.

2. Launch the VPN client. (Be sure to select the appropriate ITS Wireless Connection based on campus location code. Select UP for the University Park location.)

3. Use the wireless network to complete tasks.

4. Disconnect the VPN client when the tasks are completed.

For complete information on ITS Wireless Computing at Penn State, visit the Web at http://its.psu.edu/wireless/

For a map of wireless locations, check Penn State Live at http://live.psu.edu/still_life/2005_09_01_wireless/index2.html

For information about wireless opportunities in the classroom, check Penn State Live at http://live.psu.edu/story/13267

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Last Updated November 18, 2010