The UI will see a new wireless system starting May 21

BY ANNA THEODOSIS | MAY 08, 2012 6:30 AM

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Beginning May 21, University of Iowa technology officials will unveil a new wireless system.

The new system, Education Roaming — or Eduroam — is a wireless network allowing UI students, guests, and faculty traveling to other campuses with Eduroam to connect to the available wireless network without getting a password or having to reconfigure their device.

Steve Troester, the UI Information Technology Services director of network services, said he believes the switch — which will have no cost — will be a positive one.

"It allows ease of roaming between campuses for the users," he said. "I've had the privilege of using this, and it's very quick and easy."

Troester said change comes as the university continues to see an increase in guests with wireless devices on campus. In the spring of 2011, the UI saw 526 guests using a form of wireless device. In fall 2011, the number of guests increased to 710.

The current wireless system, UI-Wireless-WPA2, will be renamed Eduroam so other campuses can recognize the network.

Troester said the network will continue to expand to other campuses globally after its installment.

"It's just going to grow through the years as more institutions become part of it in the U.S.," he said. "We have faculty and staff who travel and have asked about this service, and they're really excited."

Current Big Ten schools testing or using Eduroam include the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, Indiana University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Brent O'Keeffe, senior network engineer for IT services at the University of Chicago, said he has seen success at the campus after implementing Eduroam in summer 2011.

"The feedback that we've received is that [students and faculty] love it," he said. "I actually use it myself when I visit other universities. I was able to get right onto the network like I was back at my campus."

While O'Keeffe said he has not heard any complaints about the new service, it can be hard to keep up with changes in technology.

"Wireless in general is a constantly moving target," he said. "It's always been a struggle for the IT services to keep up with consumer devices. We have to keep coming up with new innovations."

Some UI officials said they don't see any drawbacks in starting Eduroam but predicted a period of transition.

"The biggest challenge is to get our devices configured before we travel to other campuses," Troester said. "It uses the same level of security as our network does today."

Tracy Scott, the ITS director of service management and support, said he doesn't think students and faculty would be irritated with the transition period.

"Changes you have to make, I'm sure people will see that as drawbacks," he said. "We have a setup network that will automatically configure to [our current] network. We can set that up to configure to this Eduroam service. It's a one-time thing, then it works after that."

Troester said he thinks students will see the system as a gain.

"I think it has a benefit for all users, especially at the cost of zero," he said. "We do have a lot of students from the Chicago area and a lot of students who travel for sporting events, so when they travel, their devices would be configured, and they could use that to access their email and homework."

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