April 5, 2007
Glenn Hollinger, manager of Communication and Network Services.
Photo by Silas Polkinghorne
A provincial government initiative to spread wireless Internet access across downtown areas and post-secondary institutions in four Saskatchewan cities will help to expand the service offered at the U of S.
The University is now negotiating an agreement with the provincial Information Technology Office (ITO) that could double the number of wireless Internet or Wi-Fi access points on campus, explained Glenn Hollinger, manager of Communication and Network Services with the Information Technology Services Division.
The U of S now has about 180 wireless access points in various locations, including Place Riel, Browsers and some offices and classrooms. Hollinger estimates the number could increase to about 360, pending confirmation of the details of the ITO agreement.
The initiative likely will not bring Wi-Fi access to additional labs and offices. Instead, the project will focus on high-traffic areas in an effort to improve the wireless service for students and visitors to the U of S.
“(Wireless internet access is) starting to become an assumed service in many areas,” Hollinger said. “There are many places you can go and use wireless hot spots – and why isn’t the University one of them? We are expecting a major increase in coverage in some areas of the major buildings, in particular those that are open to students and visitors, where people congregate – that kind of open collaboration-type space.”
Hollinger said the U of S lags slightly behind the average in terms of Wi-Fi access on Canadian campuses, but the project will bring it more in line with typical universities and also help to meet students’ expectations.
“It’s keeping our services up to speed with what’s currently available in other universities. It’s trying to improve students’ ability to work and enjoy their experience here at University.”
Some new wireless service will be available by the start of May, Hollinger said, with the majority of expansion happening this summer.
The provincial government recently announced free wireless Internet would be made available in parts of Regina, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, and Saskatoon in an effort to make the cities more attractive to young people. In Saskatoon, the service will be available at the U of S, River Landing, downtown, the Broadway district, and SIAST’s Kelsey campus.
The province is spending $1.3 million on the project and a portion of that amount will be used at the U of S campus, Hollinger explained.
A current list of Wi-Fi access points is available online at wireless.usask.ca.