Wireless technology coming to Laurentian University

Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ont., has announced plans to have a completely wireless campus by the year 2003, and has partnered with Bell Canada to accomplish the task.

The University is still examining all the technological options for the project, according to its president, Dr. Jean Watters.

“What we intend to do is run a number of pilot projects next year and the year after, before looking at the full implementation either by the year 2002 or 2003,” Watters said.

It is still not known which technologies will be used or which specific devices students will be given. For the pilot projects, the school will provide devices, but it is unclear what will happen once the project is completed. The school is considering several different handheld devices and has yet to find a suitable one.

Johanne Pomerleau, the executive director of the Institute of Innovation, Learning and Technology at Laurentian, said some decisions have been reached.

“We’re definitely going to be combining the wired technology and the wireless technology. The wireless will mostly be for areas on campus where we can’t change the architectures of buildings,” she said. Areas of high student traffic, such as the cafeteria or the student lounge “plus our long corridor in the art building, are part of our target area to be connected through wireless technology for next year. And we’re in the process right now of evaluating what is needed and defining exactly how one will interface with the other.”

Jim Godin, business solutions manager at Bell Canada, said there is a lot of work to be done.

“We know it’s going to be the utilization of wireless components or technology,” he said, “but what will be at the transmitting or the receiving ends of that has yet to be determined. And this is where a lot of the time, energy and I’ll call it the contribution of the vendor has to come into play in order to get the variety of people that we need to make this a reality, because there’s going to be a lot of different individuals involved to create and to build this type of wireless structure.”

During a recent walk-through of the school, Godin said he noticed a lot of students studying in the cafeteria.

“The void today is students in these types of areas do not have access to e-mail or course-ware, which they could drive from technology such as a laptop”.

Implementing a wireless component into these areas will give students the chance to work in an environment they’re comfortable in, which in turn will result in more productivity, Godin explained.

This will be the first pilot project for the university and Bell.