Ball State Aims to Be the Big WiMAX on Campus - Page 2

By Gerry Blackwell

May 06, 2010

Free WiMAX Dongles

Now that phase of the project is complete and the school is beginning to roll out service to the university community on a pilot basis, starting with 200 graduate students who are receiving WiMAX USB dongles to use with their laptops -- gratis. "It's like Christmas," Draper says.

BSU is not content to simply roll out the network and have it used for broadband Internet access alone. "It's great to have a network, but if it just does the same things the Wi-Fi network did, what's the point," Draper says.

Yadon's department is studying a range of special and advanced applications that it hopes to build as part of research projects and/or in partnership with Draper's group to roll out for campus use.

"It's similar to the Wi-Fi environment that we had," Yadon says, "but because of the speed of WiMAX, there [is] a whole host of other things we can do, from security to environmental monitoring of buildings to meter reading. And because it's mobile, you can do anything from tracking buses to putting remote cameras in university police cruisers."

The bus tracking application, which involves installing a WiMAX transmitter on the shuttle bus that moves students on and off and around campus, is close to being ready. Draper's group has already produced a prototype that would allow WiMAX-enabled handhelds and laptops to see on a map exactly where the bus is at any time, so they can figure out where and when to catch it.

It would be a useful application in Muncie, Indiana, Draper says, "because it gets awfully cold here in the winter."

The school is also doing extensive WiMAX interoperability testing – going well beyond what commercial WiMAX operators would do in this regard, Draper says. It is even looking at the feasibility of seamless hand-offs between 3.5 GHz and 2.5 GHz network segments.

Students have first dibs on test equipment, but BSU is also testing WiMAX customer premises equipment that could be used to provide service to staff and faculty in their homes.

In the meantime, Ball State is open for business as a WiMAX consultant and network manager. "We would absolutely welcome approaches from other schools," Draper says.

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