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LAN-Based Technology Improves Cell Phone Coverage at MIT

Each time a new building goes up at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, cell phone coverage is affected--and never for the better. To support the explosive growth of mobile computing and devices on campus, the Information Services & Technology (IST) organization at MIT recently worked with Cisco and MobileAccess, as well as AT&T and Sprint Nextel, to improve campus coverage for cell phone users.

In June 2010, the Cambridge, MA campus deployed a new technology that delivers cell phone signals over a local area network for better in-building coverage. MobileAccessVE from MobileAccess sends cellular radio frequency signals over CAT-5/6 Ethernet LAN infrastructure for 2G, 3G, and 4G services, without, the company said, affecting wired or wireless LAN traffic. The installation at MIT integrates with an existing Cisco Unified Wireless Network.

The technology is being piloted in three buildings. With positive feedback the campus predicted that it will expand usage in other campus buildings and with other network vendors.

"We brought MobileAccessVE to market for enterprises hungry for in-building wireless, yet reluctant to incur the costs and inconvenience associated with new cabling and downtime," said Ron Kaiser, CEO of MobileAccess.

In the same period IST also had AT&T and Sprint Nextel install cellular transmitters on three buildings, which required working with MIT's department of facilities and the City of Cambridge for building permits. The new transmitters are designed to penetrate building infrastructure more effectively and thereby improve campus coverage.

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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