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  1. 1. Enterprises Will Find College Grads Attuned to Broadband Wireless Future BY J. SHARPE SMITH What will tomorrow’s wireless applications be and who will create them? Officials at Carnegie-Mellon began working on the answer to that question back in 1994 when they were farsighted enough to understand that a wireless infrastructure for communications, computation and entertainment was going to be important in the future. As a result, the school built a complete wireless system on top of the wired communications and computation infrastructure in order to train future software developers, as well as to enhance the educational environment for the students. “We believed we needed to lead in this field because we have a history of leading in the areas of communications and computation,” says Ed Schlesinger, Professor and head of the Electrical and Computing Engineering Department. “We didn’t want to just do the research, we wanted a large- scale infrastructure established within the campus to help us understand how the technology works first hand by watching the students interact with it.” How `Wireless Andrew’ Works To provide high-speed wireless service to the campus, Lucent WaveLAN equipment was installed, which uses a direct sequence spread spectrum radio to provide a raw data rate of 2 Mbps. The equipment is 2.4 GHz, IEEE 802.11b ethernet compatible technology. The result was ubiquitous wireless access to a powerful, wired network on the Carnegie Mellon Campus, located five miles from downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Carnegie Mellon Wireless Network, nicknamed “Wireless Andrew” after the first names of both Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon, covers the entire campus including 4 million square feet of interior floor space and 1 to 2 acres of outside areas. Using more than 800 802.11b EWM 14 ISSUE 1, VOL. 2, 2006
  2. 2. Access Points, coverage is provide to 33 academic and administrative buildings, 36 residence halls and four outdoor areas. Broadband Wireless Shaping the Communications Mindset of Young Because of the ubiquity of the broadband wireless coverage Andrew, nearly two and a half the lifestyle of the college student. provided by Carnegie-Mellon, times the number of students You are more likely to see a student “computing anywhere and [7,500], but that number includes with a laptop under their arm than anytime” has gone from a luxury to faculty and staff. On any given day, pencil and paper,” says Schlesinger. a service that is taken for granted there are more than 3,000 active “It changes the way we operate; it by students. As an established users networking wirelessly. is much more efficient. If we are in component of the infrastructure, a meeting and can’t answer a more than 18,738 wireless cards “The whenever, wherever high- question, we surf the Web until we are registered on the Wireless speed Internet service really fits into find an answer. We usually work EWM 15 ISSUE 1, VOL. 2, 2006
  3. 3. Carnegie Mellon’s philosophy is that, as a fundamental infrastructure, WLAN is as important as any of the other infrastructures. The school is currently upgrading the system to 802.11A, which still operates at 2.4 GHz and uses direct sequence spread spectrum, but it will operate at a much higher 11 megabits per second. The university will continue to upgrade, maintain and grow this system to keep up with the technical advances in the Ed Schlesinger, head of Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at future. Carnegie Mellon University together to craft an email based on Networking Institute or working on The wireless network at Carnegie the minutes and send it out before a degree in computer science. “The Mellon is an open network. the meeting breaks. It makes things WLAN infrastructure provides them Previously, access points closed the more immediate.” with real-world experience in the system to laptops not configured research, testing, deployment and for the Carnegie Mellon University maintenance of wireless technology, WLAN Serves as a network. Today, when a user which is critical to developing the connects to the network, they must Living Laboratory talent that our nation’s companies still obtain a Carnegie Mellon IP for Tomorrow’s need to continue our leadership in address through AuthBridge or this area and further the growth of QuickReg on the NetReg page. This Applications this technology,” says Chuck Bartel, step restricts the Carnegie Mellon Project Director for Wireless wireless network to Carnegie The infrastructure is not only a Andrew. Mellon affiliates, yet still allows test bed for use in terms of Internet access to those not doing research, but it provides a College Research affiliated with the campus. service for the users, as well. The Drives the Wireless ability to do research depends on “A team of students is always having the proper infrastructure, Network Forward working to improve the Wireless but it is difficult to deploy and Andrew system. They continually maintain an infrastructure unless study a graphical representation In the networking area, researchers the students are engaged in of the network to analyze system are studying topics ranging from requisite research. What results is a usage, which allows them to the quality of service of network dynamic synergy of the user pinpoint which access points management and e-commerce community, research community are the busiest and perhaps rework issues to improving Wi-Fi reception. and system-maintenance the network to increase This expansive research team also is community that provides the throughput,” says Bartel. “Another doing research related to optical wireless service. course studies e-commerce, using networks, including how best to location-based technologies. configure fiber optics, how to Students from several departments Software has been studied that improve ways to get messages to within the university are involved in allows students in separate areas to their destinations and how to use working on the WLAN. Electrical work together on a collaborative optical components such as laser and Computer Engineering is one. basis, all sharing the same switches, the building blocks of The student might be pursuing a computer screen.” networks. degree in the Information EWM 16 ISSUE 1, VOL. 2, 2006
  4. 4. In particular, the students have While some of these projects might wireless system on their campus created software that tracks the seem a bit offbeat, this gives allows students a space to develop user and coordinates their location students from the computer software that will eventually with their class schedule. If the engineering discipline a leg up on leverage future wireless student is not moving toward his or molding technologies into infrastructures. “We built the her next class 10 minutes before applications that will serve users in WLAN for traditional purposes, the start, it will set off an alarm to a particular environment. web access, e-mail and calendar help keep the student from being use, but since it is here we are late. Location is achieved using having a number of students, Graduates Creating triangulation of several Wi-Fi system faculty and staff finding new and the Future of access points. Students are also interesting uses for it,” says Bartel. Enterprise Wireless studying the provision of “If you didn’t have the pervasive information service alerts. Students, infrastructure in place, these being students, one project types of products may not have With cellular EVDO wireless provides the location of events been attempted. The notion is broadband capability, wireless across campus where free food is research institutions expose mesh and Wi-MAX becoming a being served, via email alert. In college students to new technology reality, ubiquitous wireless another application, using the before the rest of society. So, broadband may be an important student’s calendar, the system when they go into the workplace, part of the future enterprise delays instant messages until the they enable their employers to wireless environment. Carnegie student is out of a class. move into those technologies.” Mellon officials believe having a EWM 17 ISSUE 1, VOL. 2, 2006