Next-generation Wi-Fi service available on campus buses

CU-Boulder researchers are helping develop the next generation of the Internet—a more mobile version—and the campus’ Office of Information Technology is using this new technology to provide mobile wireless Internet service on campus buses.

The university recently used the WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) wireless protocol to extend its wireless network to the campus buses running between the main Boulder campus and student residence halls at Williams Village, located about a mile to the east.

A tablet-wielding student in one of these residence halls can now jump on the campus wireless network while waiting at the bus stop, board the bus and ride it to campus, all during one uninterrupted session on the campus wireless network.

“The Internet, and the way that people access the Internet, is changing,” said Dirk Grunwald, CU-Boulder computer science professor. “Internet access has grown increasingly mobile. Originally, only large mainframes used the Internet. That changed to desktop computers, laptops and now smart phones. The next generation Internet needs to directly address the mobile users of the future.”

Grunwald is part of a GENI (Global Environment for Network Innovations) WiMAX project to implement and study a test WiMAX system that will be part of a collection of such systems on several campuses across the country.

While Wi-Fi wireless service—the kind most of us are accustomed to using in coffee shops and hotels—is designed for short-range wireless coverage, primarily inside buildings, WiMAX is designed for mobility and outdoor connections that can be maintained at highway speeds.

The university’s Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program, or ITP, is employing WiMAX technology in a laboratory setting to allow students first-hand experience with this technology.

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