AT&T Inc. is partnering up with Ohio State to provide a wider scope of Internet access to students, faculty, staff and guests on campus.
Catherine Bindewald, communication director in the Office of the Chief Information Officer, said seven AT&T wireless hotspots were enabled around campus to provide Internet access to individuals who want to quickly connect.
The AT&T wireless network is still in testing phase, but Bindewald said there have been no problems. She also added there are plans to make it a permanent optional network on campus and extend it to regional campuses if testing continues to go well.
Locations for wireless hotspots include: the Mershon Auditorium, the Longaberger Alumni House, Baker Systems Engineering, the Telecommunications Network Center, the Kinnear Road Center, the Airport Drive Center and in the basement of Central Classroom Building .
Prior to this, Wi-Fi access on campus was limited to OSU wireless or OSU guest wireless, where usernames and passwords are required for login.
Additionally, the AT&T access is currently free to anyone within range, Bindewald said.
Even for the OSU guest network, there are rules for people to gain access to the network. Guests of the university first have to be sponsored by a student, faculty or staff member before they could get the proper username and password.
“This causes obstacles for individuals outside of the university who attend meetings and conferences on campus and cannot access the Internet,” Bindewald said. “(With AT&T) it’s immediate and simple.”
While supporting the efficiency of the new network, Bindewald also cautions against using it during important or personal Internet transactions.
“The AT&T service is unauthenticated,” Bindewald said. “Using OSU wireless is recommended for those who want secure access, whether it be turning in homework to Carmen, using your email or checking personal information online.”
Many students are still unaware that the network exists, but some students who have used it say they like the convenience of easy Internet access.
“I’ve used it a number of times,” said Dave Peters, fourth-year in psychology and criminology. “I set up my password for OSU wireless freshman year and now I don’t remember what it is. So I just use the network to access stuff I need while I’m on campus.”
“I’ll use AT&T when OSU wireless is slow or not connecting. It’s nice to have the option,” said Joel Buckley, fourth-year in business operations management.
Kate MacKinnon, manager of northeast strategic communications for AT&T, said this is just the beginning of AT&T’s plan.
“The 23,000 Wi-Fi hotspots around the country are part of our plan to help delivery high quality wireless Internet to our customers,” MacKinnon said. “Our planned Wi-Fi deployment on campus is still in the testing phases. We’re looking forward to having more to share soon on this.”