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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 July, 2004, 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
Universities get wi-fi access
Students hanging out in student room
Students will no longer be confined to their room for net access
Students will soon have another good reason to skip lectures as wireless internet access comes to campuses around the UK.

Wireless internet service provider SUBzone is to install high-speed wireless net services to more than 55 student unions in Britain.

The wireless access will first be installed at the Leeds Metropolitan University Students Union.

Eventually it will be available for upwards of 1.2 million students.

Toilet break

Students tend to live in rented accommodation and not that many are connected to the web,
Ken Stratford, Leeds Met University
It will allow widespread internet access in study lounges, halls of residence, cafes and bars.

"It is clear that wireless networking is going to become an essential part of any modern university environment," said Ken Stratford, general manager at the Leeds Metropolitan University Students Union.

He is very exciting about the trial: "At the moment we cover the entire student union building and you can even get a signal on your laptop from the loo," he said.

Broadband for all

And down the line the potential of the technology is even greater.

"In about 18 months time the range of this technology will step-up a gear and offer a potential two-mile range," he said.

With Leeds Met's 30,000 students living close to the two student union buildings there is potential to provide a cheap alternative broadband network for most of them.

"Students tend to live in rented accommodation and not that many are connected to the web," said Mr Stratford.

At Leeds Met, three-quarters of students have laptops rather than desktop PCs so plenty will be able to take advantage of the wireless network which, for the moment, remains free.

The wireless network - supplied by Aruba Wireless Networks - will provide 802.11a/b/g access to the internet and will be completely separate from existing university networks.

SUBzone's sister company SUBtv already supplies plasma screens in student bars which allow access to specific university TV content as well as normal channels.

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