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Wireless Coverage Expanded at LCC
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by Kaz Chambers

During the summer of 2007 Mark Young, the Leeward Community College (LCC) network administrator, spearheaded the LCC Wireless project. While LCC had wireless available at various locations on campus for years, this was the result of various departments implementing their own wireless networks to support their programs and/or departments. The new LCC Wireless project had several objectives:

  • Replace the existing SOHO (small office/home office) type wireless networks that existed on campus.
  • Provide campus-wide coverage of both indoor and outdoor areas allowing users to freely roam throughout the coverage areas.
  • Make wireless accessible to all students, faculty and staff with a valid UH Username and password.
  • Centrally manage and monitor the wireless network.

Due to workload and budgeting limitations, the project was divided into three phases. The first phase included the implementation of a Cisco 4402 wireless LAN (local area network) controller and the initial Cisco Aironet 1100 series access points. LCC wanted to use the University of Hawai‘i’s LDAP services to allow people to use their UH Username and password. Therese Nakadomari, the LCC Server Administrator, worked with Michael Hodges and Russ Tokuyama of Information Technology Services (ITS) to coordinate the setup and to configure a Sun Fire V125 server to handle authentication. Thang Nguyen of ITS helped troubleshoot the firewall rules after all of the hardware was installed.

The coverage area of this first phase focused on the central part of the campus. This area included the high traffic areas for students such as the Campus Center, Cafeteria and Library buildings as well as their surrounding areas.

The launch date of the LCC Wireless went off without a hitch.  Help Desk operations, under the direction of Penny Uyehara, were well prepared. Help Desk staff and student workers were trained in the setup and troubleshooting of the wireless network connections for both Macintosh and Windows systems. They were also tasked with creating the documentation and posting it on the LCC campus website. Their final task was to set up a Help Desk in front of the Student Center to answer questions and provide assistance. We were pleasantly surprised that the launch of the project went off so well. To date we have only 49 assistance requests in our Help Desk system relating to the campus wireless.

Map of wireless coverage at LCC
Wireless coverage outside of these buildings are shown within the dotted red area.

We are currently in the second phase of the project. We have expanded the coverage areas and now the LCC Wireless is available to approximately 65% of the campus. We are seeing a marked increase in students bringing laptops to campus. They can be seen congregating in the courtyards around the picnic tables. The results of a survey conducted at the end of the fall semester indicated a very high level of satisfaction (87%) for this new service. The only criticism was that the coverage was not campus-wide. There has also been an increase in the use of the laptop checkout programs in the campus library and the Learning Resource Center.

The third phase is scheduled for completion during the summer of 2008. That phase will provide coverage for the remainder of the campus and will be completed before students return for the start of the fall 2008 semester.

Partly as a result of increased usage of outdoor areas, LCC Administrative Services is now looking at replacing the aging outdoor furniture. The increased need for electrical outlets has been added to their considerations as they plan for the new furniture. The idea of extending our learning spaces into these outdoor courtyards has a wonderful appeal as we try to enhance the campus experience for our students, faculty and staff.
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