University to offer free Wi-Fi in all residence halls
University officials are looking to make free Wi-Fi available to students in residence halls in the coming years, with residents of Wilson Hall already experiencing the new perk this year.
The university has implemented free Wi-Fi service in Wilson Hall and will follow a phased approach in implementing the service in halls across campus to make sure that the money is “invested wisely,” said Kat Cooper, communications manager for the Division of Residential and Hospitality Services, or RHS.
Officials do not have a timeline for full implementation of the Wi-Fi service because finances still are being determined, Cooper said.
The cost estimate for the implementation of the Wi-Fi service at Wilson comes to $350,000. Cost estimates across campus are yet to be determined, but a study conducted five years ago put the cost estimate for the service at $4 million.
The total cost of providing the service is expected to be known by October. The university is expected to approve the appropriate funds by January 2014, Cooper said.
Through implementing the service gradually, RHS hopes to have a better understanding of the long-range service costs.
Officials also will closely examine the efficiency of the operating software to make sure that when the service is fully implemented on campus, it is functioning flawlessly.
Biosystems engineering freshman Carly Head said the Wi-Fi service has been available since she moved in to Wilson Hall this fall semester and has been running so far without problems.
The routers are provided in the rooms, and students can register two devices to the Wi-Fi network.
Working with Internet in dorms like Wilson used to require purchasing a separate router and going through the process of configuring the system, something students said was a time-consuming hassle that detracted from studies and work.
“The idea has been floating around for some time,” Cooper said, adding that the Residence Halls Association, or RHA, has suggested the service to the university in the past.
The Wi-Fi service was discussed by RHA executive board members this semester, but it only came as a coincidence that the organization decided to implement the service, said RHA President Zachary DeRade.
“(The service) is already something that is coming our way,” DeRade said, adding that REHS representatives will be explaining their plan for full campus service operations more in depth at the organization’s upcoming meeting on Wednesday evening.
The new service is a large investment by the university, which is funded through a Teaching and Learning Environment, or TLE, grant, Cooper said.TLE is a grant allocated by the state of Michigan to the university providing recurring funds for various long-term programs aimed at bettering the learning and teaching environment.