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By Carmen Nobel  |  Posted 2004-07-26 Print this article Print

In addition, the school hopes to capitalize on the idea of roaming between cellular networks and WLANs, which the Intel prototype device allows. Several other companies, including Motorola Inc., have announced plans for such a device.

The university has been offering voice services over a WLAN for two years and is ready to take it a step further. The school has a wide deployment of VOIP (voice-over-IP) phones from Cisco and is working with the San Jose, Calif., company on a possible implementation of its 7920 wireless IP phones as well. Currently, the 7920 supports only LANs, but Ficklin said Cisco representatives are helping him figure out how to bridge WANs and WLANs.

"What we want to do in the future is take the 7920 phone and give every student, resident and nonresident [the ability to roam]," Ficklin said. "When they leave the campus, it becomes part of the regular cell phone network. That gives us the ability to provide our students with services that we can get cost recovery off of."

In the meantime, Ficklin said he is looking to bridge the main Pine Bluff campus to a farm campus 12 miles away.

Currently, the main campus runs some 180 WLAN access points from Cisco, supporting a mix of 802.11b and 802.11g networks on the 2.4GHz RF (radio-frequency) band. The wireless bridges, also from Cisco, will sit atop 100-foot towers and will communicate via 802.11a, which, like 802.11g, offers data rates of up to 54M bps but operates in the less crowded 5GHz frequency band.

By June of next year, the university hopes to have the farm campus fully equipped with wireless. "You need video to make sure people are not robbing you of your fish and robbing you of your crops," Ficklin said. "In agri, your farm is your classroom. Were a land-grant institution, which means were responsible for coming up with inventions, research, discovery—not only for Pine Bluff, Ark., but for the world."

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