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Suffolk U Adds In-Building Wireless Solution To Ensure Student Cell Coverage

To ensure that student cell phones work within its residential halls, Boston-based Suffolk University has implemented gear from Cellular Specialties Inc. (CSI). The new hardware boosts wireless signal strength for data and voice services in highly congested, low-coverage areas. That includes Nathan Miller, the university's 21-story residence hall, a 168,000-square-foot building on Beacon Hill.

According to CIO Fouad Yatim, the initial need for CSI hardware was driven by the university's in-campus emergency notification system: "Originally, in-building wireless was not even on our radar," he explained. "But it quickly became an issue when we realized that poor cell phone coverage was hindering the ability for students to receive important in-campus notifications via e-mail and text when they were located in certain buildings."

"The ability to send and receive data regardless of location is crucial for students, as most are using texting rather than talking on their wireless devices," Yatim added. "Additionally, more and more applications are being optimized to run on mobile devices, and students are connecting to these applications using their smart phones. For this reason, availability and accessibility of these applications regardless of location is critical."

Also, according to Yatim, the high-bandwidth wireless devices that are best suited for data traffic are most problematic for in-building wireless coverage: "As phones are getting smarter, they begin to run on higher and higher bandwidth networks, as more and more data are being used. But these 2G and 3G networks have the most trouble penetrating buildings, making it much less likely that the wireless device will work indoors."

The CSI coverage can be extended to other buildings across campus as needed, Yatim said. "While I cannot forecast what new applications or uses for wireless devices might come down the road, I feel confident that our in-building wireless signal solution provided by CSI will handle it."

The hardware implemented from CSI includes a tri-band omnidirectional antenna, a Yagi antenna, a corner reflector antenna, a DSP85 digital repeater, two-way splitters, and directional couplers.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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