13 April 2004

Wireless access to the University Network

Update on progress for WiFi access to the University network.

Logicalis has completed a survey of the University's Bruce campus (excluding the Residences) with a view to developing a proposal to provide wireless access to the University network for authorised users from anywhere on campus. Once the report is finalised it will be submitted to the University for funding and if approved the network may be in place this year.

Wireless will not replace the need for wired networks: applications that require large amounts of data to be moved around a network (multimedia production applications for example) will still require wired connections for the increased capacity wired connections provide. The wireless access points themselves will also need to be connected to the wired network at some point.

A number of universities around the world and across Australia have implemented wireless access to their networks and report a number of advantages. Swinburne University of Technology reports (Campus Review, 7-13 November 2003, iv) positive outcomes for its wireless trial, indicating "wireless laptops cost 26 cents per 'usable hour' compared with 60 cents for lab computers." The savings are made as a result of the higher availability of wireless computers when compared with lab computers: the wireless network can be accessed from around campus at any time, whereas the labs are not always available.

Swinburne has also reported increased student collaboration as a result of the wireless network, where students spend more time on campus working with other students. Students also said it improved their ability to study.

The Division should consider the possibilities offered by wireless networking to expand existing facilities without the expense of building new buildings and establishing new labs.