Among a host of other features, the new Bell Tower residence hall on East Campus boasts wireless Internet connections, making it the first dorm at Duke to integrate comprehensively the popular technology. According to administrators, it's a taste of what's to come.
Many academic and administrative buildings already offer wireless connections, and most residence halls have wireless hookups available in lounges and common areas, but, until this year, all student dorm rooms still relied on a wired connection to the Duke network. Through a partnership with Cisco Systems Inc., Duke developed Bell Tower in anticipation of an expected universal shift in the communications industry over the next few years from wired to wireless voice, data, and video delivery, according to Kevin Miller, senior analyst with Duke's Network Technologies group.
"What we're envisioning now is developing a set of services that students, faculty, and staff are asking for and that we can deliver efficiently," Miller says. "Bell Tower will serve as a blueprint for how to develop an infrastructure at Duke to support growth in emerging digital data [and] audio and video applications in new and existing buildings on campus."
The wireless system in Bell Tower, which offers one access point for every two rooms, will transmit at more than five times the speed of a typical 10mb-per-second wired network connection.
"Today's college freshmen have grown up in an all-digital world where mobility and multi-tasking are a routine and expected part of life," says Tracy Futhey, Duke's vice president for information technology. "Our goal is to provide both the infrastructure and the support to our faculty and students that make it possible to use technology in innovative ways throughout all aspects of life at Duke."