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Student Fed­er­ation sent out a survey last week asking stu­dents what they would do with $5,000 to improve campus. Fifty-six percent of stu­dents said they wanted Wi-Fi in the dorms.

Unfor­tu­nately, according to David Zenz, exec­utive director of ITS, the cost of that project could be more than $200,000.

Zenz said it has been several years since they looked into it and he did not have exact prices, but the working numbers were $170,000 to finish the edge switches, while the wireless would clock in at $77,000.

Patrick Char­trand, network systems manager, explained the cost for each access point, such as a high-end modem, in a building can cost upwards of $1,000 once infra­structure, wiring, and switch costs are all con­sidered.

With the number of res­i­dences, Wi-Fi would be placed in along with the number of access points needed in each building, the costs quickly sky­rocket. In addition, POE (power over eth­ernet switches) would provide ITS with more freedom, but are also more expensive.

Zenz also explained there was a time, “back in the day,” when there were no other wireless devices allowed on Hillsdale’s network. However, times have changed and now there is a theory called, BYOD (bring your own device.)

These devices include Xboxs, Apple Time Machines, and Tivo devices that often have their own Wi-Fi con­nec­tions.

The problem with these devices is that their signals cancel out the school’s network signal. Asso­ciate Dean of Women Rebekah Dell men­tioned that the Suites is the only res­i­dence hall with wireless con­nection. Because the wireless con­nection was too slow for stu­dents’ pref­er­ences, stu­dents brought their own modems. However, these modems fight with the school’s wireless.

Char­trand said each access point can only support three signals, and the other day there were 22 “rogue devices” cre­ating dead zones on the second floor of the Suites.

Zenz said that our wired network is old and in need of replacement.

“The wired network is the foun­dation upon which you build a robust wireless network,” Zenz said. “Since we lack funding for this par­ticular purpose, switch replacement and Wi-Fi access point placement, embracing BYOD makes good use of the the varied devices, some Wi-Fi capable, that stu­dents bring with them.”

When money becomes available, replacing the switches would provide a better envi­ronment for our existing BYOD system.

Dell said the Wi-Fi issue is def­i­nitely on the fore­front of the college’s mind.

“It is on the radar, and any and all future dorms will be wireless,” Dell said, “It is some­thing we are phasing in.”

However, she said it is finan­cially more cost effi­cient to wait until ren­o­va­tions on these older buildings are made before they add Wi-Fi.

“It would be a very expensive patch when we want to solve the problem,” Dell said.

The college has plans to make these ren­o­va­tions within the next five to 10 years, depending on dona­tions.

“We con­sciously try to think of ways to make this better for stu­dents,” Zenz said.

Junior David Wil­helmsen, student fed­er­ation pres­ident, asked Zenz what could be done with the $5,000 Student Fed has.

“If we approve $5,000 today, ITS will imme­di­ately begin installing a better system in the Union and com­pre­hensive Wi-Fi for the quad.”

Whil­helmsen also said Zenz agreed to support Wi-Fi for campus housing. Student Fed­er­ation will partner with ITS and the admin­is­tration to cover the costs, and it could very real­is­ti­cally be done this year.

“As pres­ident, I am putting my full support behind these mea­sures,” Whil­helmsen said. “I expect the majority of Student Fed­er­ation will follow suit since Wi-Fi has such broad support the student body at large.”