NMU Launches WiMAX Network

Northern deployed one of the largest active WiMAX networks in the country on the 10th anniversary of its campus-wide notebook computer program. A public demonstration of the technology was held this afternoon in the Superior Dome. Students stationed in various Marquette locations dicussed the new wireless opportunities via WiMAX video projected on a large screen (pictured)..

WiMAX is a fourth-generation protocol (4G) that offers broadband wireless Internet access. Compared with the more common WiFi, WiMAX is capable of transmitting data over broad areas with less interference and more efficient bandwidth use.

“Over the past few years, with WiFi hot spots, NMU covered about 10 percent of the City of Marquette. WiMAX allows us to cover nearly 100 percent of the city,” said Gavin Leach (Finance and Administration). “This access is important for our 6,000-plus off-campus students, as well as for students and faculty doing research and learning outside of the classroom. It extends our Internet access to educational resources.”

NMU is one of the first universities in the nation with a WiMAX network. Its license is restricted to education or government use. The university is already in discussions with some area K-12 schools about assisting in enhancing their wireless capabilities.

The 3,000 Lenovo ThinkPads being issued to Northern students this fall have built-in WiMAX/WiFi Intel cards. Students still using last year’s model will receive a WiMAX-equipped ThinkPad next fall as part of the university’s routine two-year rotation cycle. Meanwhile, USB WiMAX cards are available in the library for temporary use or for purchase at the NMU Bookstore.

The NMU notebook computer initiative was implemented a decade ago to bridge the “digital divide” by facilitating equal access to the latest technology. Students are issued computers as part of tuition and fees.

“It is highly appropriate that we’re marking the program’s 10th anniversary by unveiling another major technology initiative that addresses the same goal of equal access,” said NMU President Les Wong. “WiMAX will help to ensure that many of the NMU students who live off campus enjoy wireless access comparable to their peers who live on campus. And there is no additional university fee for this benefit.”

Intel, Lenovo and Motorola participated in the WiMAX network deployment. Representatives from the three companies attended today's demonstration. For more information on the technology, visit WiMAX.



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Updated: August 20, 2009

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