IT Services unleashes new wireless internet in housing, changes to laptop program

By Hannah Mason, Assistant Editor

Since the spring term ended, IT Services and Comcast have begun the process of replacing all modems in campus housing for faster, wireless models. According to Chief Technology Officer of IT Services Jim Clark, this includes all dormitory rooms (except at this time for the unoccupied Boyd Hall and top two floors of Beta Hall), specialty student housing (such as University Place and campus-owned student houses), and campus-owned faculty housing.

“It’s a complete sweep of all modems,” Clark said.

Becky McCullough, Network Administrator of IT Services, said that the new modems feature four wired data ports which can support Ethernet hookups for laptops, desktop computers, gaming systems, and other devices, but the biggest new feature is that they connect to devices wirelessly.

This means that West Liberty University residents no longer need to bring their own wireless routers to connect their devices to the internet: with the new modems, you can now wirelessly connect all internet devices (laptop, tablets, smartphones, Roku or Apple TV, gaming systems, etc.) to your own personal home network, without having to set up your own wireless router. She added that though there are two telephone ports on the back of each system, they are inactive, meaning only that students cannot plug in a landline telephone through these devices.

Also, Clark said that the new DOCSIS 3.0 modems are more than four times faster, for both upstream and downstream transmission bandwidth, than the previous system.

Each modem comes preprogrammed with the network name and password printed on the back.

“It’s an all-in-one package,” Clark said. He added that IT Services has listened to the suggestions of students, alumni, and student government groups, who have all expressed a need in recent years for better internet in the residence halls, and these new modems should fulfill all the requests. They are faster with a better response speed, and they now allow for integrated wireless connections without the need for a router from home.

By the end of summer and return to campus for the fall semester, all modems should be replaced, they said, but anyone who returns to find that they do not have a new modem in their campus residence, or who have any problems with their modem, is encouraged to call Comcast Technical Support at 1-888-231-4526 or contact West Liberty IT Services. Clark also added that any student in need of an Ethernet cable to hook up devices to their modem are encouraged to stop by IT Services to receive one.

However, the new modems are not the only change to come out of IT Services for the upcoming academic year. Clark said that the Student Laptop Program also is undergoing a few changes.

Students will now be charged the full cost of their laptop or iPad—a one-time fee of $450 for a laptop, and $400 for an iPad Air. The program also, for the first time, is available for any West Liberty University student enrolled in at least three credit hours, no matter whether the classes are at the Highlands or main campus or whether the student is a first-time freshman or not. Also, the devices are now completely the property of the student once the fee is paid—there is no refund to the school, there will not be extra charges if a student transfers or graduates and wants to keep the device.

“Once you pay the fee,” Clark said, “it’s yours, you own it.”

As always, the Student Laptop Program is optional, Clark said, though he encourages students to weigh the value of having the support of IT Services available at all times when making their decision. The cost of the University laptop or iPad includes a built-in service fee for maintenance or service at IT Services at any time.

More information on the Student Laptop Program, including which colleges and majors require certain devices, can be found on the Laptop Program page on the IT Services website, and students can sign up for the program with the Laptop Intent to Participate Form.

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