ITS is installing hardware that will enable wireless Ethernet connection throughout much of campus.

After a wireless Ethernet pilot program launched by Yale Information Technology Services in February, ITS is officially extending wireless Ethernet coverage to the rest of campus. Installation began several weeks ago, and ITS expects to complete the residential colleges in two or three weeks.

Ryan Edmonds ’04 connected to the Internet wirelessly from her laptop during the pilot program.

“It was really good when and where it worked, and overall I really enjoyed it,” Edmonds said. “Going to do laundry in the Berkeley common room and being able to chat [online] at the same time was really great.”

The areas that will have wireless Ethernet coverage include main libraries, the dining halls, the Old Campus lawn, residential college common rooms and libraries, and the residential college courtyards.

“ITS Data Network Operations’ interest in deploying wireless is to build a reliable and successful Universitywide infrastructure that meets the goal of allowing a wireless machine to work smoothly anywhere on campus where wireless coverage exists,” ITS Director Philip Long said.

The pilot program lasted through the end of the spring term and had 93 participants, all in Berkeley and Calhoun colleges. It was funded by a donation by alumni Norman Selby ’74 and Melissa Vail ’74 last December, which is helping to fund the wireless expansion as well.

“We consider the pilot a success and are evolving from pilot into production service,” said Joseph Paolillo, ITS data network operations director. “We expect wireless to grow in popularity as the technology improves and the price drops.”

Wireless Ethernet works via radio transmission, Paolillo said. A device called an access point is installed in the coverage area and is connected to the wired network. The access point contains a radio transmitter/receiver that communicates with the personal computers in the area and passes the data to and from the wired network.

PCs use a wireless network interface card, similar to an Ethernet card or modem, to communicate with the access point.

Wireless network cards costing $200 last year are now available for $100-$120, and will increasingly be built-in on some laptops and personal digital assistants, Paolillo said.

The pilot program ran in Berkeley and Calhoun colleges, Sterling Memorial Library, Cross Campus Library, the Cross Campus lawn, and several other areas.

The pilot program’s function was primarily to locate the best places in which to install access points for wireless Ethernet connections. In addition to the two colleges and the libraries, ITS tested wireless Ethernet in the Social Science Library, Davies Auditorium, the Mason seminar room in Mason Lab, and Watson Hall.

The most heavily used location was CCL, Paolillo said, and the dining halls and libraries of both colleges also were popular.

But despite the mobility and freedom of having wireless Ethernet coverage across campus, particularly in places where a wired connection would be difficult or impossible to manage, there are still some knots to unkink.

Long said wireless connections can become considerably slower if too many users are connected to one access point or if a user moves away from the access point. Also, a hand’s passing in front of the wireless network card can break the connection.

“[Wireless is] a terrific convenience technology but it does not generally replace a wired network,” Long said.