Wireless is academic at the U of T

The largest university in Canada announced Tuesday that its 57,000 students and faculty will no longer need to sit at a PC to take advantage of its online services.

The University of Toronto, with help from systems integrator Compugen Services Ltd., recently embarked on the rollout of the RoamAbout wireless platform from Enterasys Networks Inc. Officials at the university say the move is prompted by overcrowding in its computer labs and the changing needs of its students, who are often equipped with laptop computers.

The emerging wireless network at the University of Toronto will allow those laptop computers to connect to the campus network using wireless/radio frequency technology rather than a traditional Ethernet card. The wireless network supports the 802.11b standard and uses 128-bit encryption to help secure the flow of data, officials added.

“With wireless technology, we can offer connectivity in a much more simplified, convenient and cost-effective technology,” said Norman Housely, manager NDIS at the University of Toronto, in a prepared press statement.

The rollout as already begun in select sites at the U of T’s downtown campus, but the school says full implementation “will be a work in progress for quite a long duration,”

According to the project plan posted at the U of T Web site (http://www.wireless.utoronto.ca), devices called access points are now being installed at various locations on campus. These access points are connected to the wired network. A wireless card, once installed in a laptop, employs radio frequencies to communicate with the access points and, through it, to the campus network and the Internet.

The school and Compugen will both offer wireless PC cards to students so that they can access the new service.

U of T selected Enterays earlier this year after conducting a study of the wireless market’s major players.