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Notre Dame Flexible Mobile System Wins ACUTA Honors

The Association for Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education (ACUTA) picked the University of Notre Dame as the winner of its Institutional Excellence in Communications Technology Award. The honor was bestowed for ND's approach to upgrading its wireless infrastructure.

UND's Transforming Communications project established a mobile infrastructure that enabled managers to easily scale its performance based on university demand, ACUTA said.

To do so, the university set up a multi-carrier cellular distributed antenna system to furnish enhanced cellular services across campus. It also added 500 Wi-Fi access points while eliminating 3,364 land lines in student residence halls.

When students began bypassing the school's traditional phone system in favor of cellular service, the school faced the challenge of how to provide cellular coverage without setting up cell towers all over campus.

The school's IT team consequently chose a carrier-neutral distributed cellular antenna system that allowed them to install a network of small  antennae that could be hidden in buildings. The university worked with NextG Networks on the network.

"Most students rely on cell phones and text messaging as their primary mode of telephone communications, and we really needed to focus our long-term efforts toward enabling that technology," said Notre Dame chief information officer Gordon Wishon. About 95 percent of students arrive on campus with text-enabled cell phones, he added.

Dewitt Latimer, the university's chief technology officer, said the distributed antenna system "gave us what we needed in performance, carrier neutrality, and aesthetics. The antennae are difficult to spot unless someone shows you exactly where they are."

The University of Idaho and the University of Cincinnati earned Institution Excellence honorable mentions from ACUTA.

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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