The Economy & Education

State College Wireless Coverage Effort Dies in South Dakota

An effort in South Dakota by the Board of Regents to implement pervasive wireless in all six public campuses has fallen victim to the failing economy and employee lobbying. The Regents sent an e-mail memo to university administrators and regents, announcing the suspension of what was called the Mobile Computing Initiative owing to a lack of funding, while encouraging individual schools to implement wireless networks on their own.

According to coverage in the Madison Daily Leader, the regents had asked for $11 million in one-time funding from the state legislature to set up a wireless computing environment on all public university campuses and redesign instructional delivery to include the use of computing devices. The legislature refused to cover the cost in a general appropriations bill passed in February.

The regents then proposed an alternative means of generating the funding: increasing student fees and shifting payday for 5,500 regent employees from the last day of the month to the first day of the month. That latter move would have pushed a single payroll into another fiscal year's budget, freeing up the funds needed for the wireless project. But according to reporting by the Argus Leader, "Student groups opposed the fee increase and the state Council For Higher Education, as well as legislators, fought against the payday shift."

Currently, only two campuses provide broad wireless connectivity, Dakota State University in Madison and South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in Rapid City.

In the e-mail sent to institutions, Tad Perry, executive director of the Regents, wrote, ""This is not an abandonment of our goals.... We still have every intention to get this done, but the message, quite frankly, was getting lost in funding sources, so we took that discussion off the table."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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