NIU dorms see advancement in technology, online services

By Linda Luk

No need for dial up signals anymore, Information Technology Services has led NIU to the cutting edge of Internet technology.

For the first time, students living in residence halls can access high-speed Internet through NIU with their own computers. Students living in Lincoln, Douglas and Neptune, along with University Apartments, will be using DSL (digital service line), while Grant and Stevenson will use 10 BaseT Ethernet.

This new technology is the result of three recent advancements to NIU’s computer system.

NIU purchased $1.5 million in equipment for the upgrade of the residence hall’s Internet system, and Cisco systems donated $400,000 worth of equipment.

The university has requested to be a member of the Illinois Century Network (ICN), a telecommunications backbone that provides a pipeline of high-speed Internet connections to thousands, including schools, libraries and museums.

“It’s easy to think of the ICN as a bunch of water pipes connected across the state,” Czerniak explained. “They start out small at the user but must expand to support enough water for the entire community. ICN provides high-speed access to everyone who is connected to the system.”

The university also had a proposal passed to make NIU a regional center that functions as a major distribution point of high-speed Internet access, not only for the campus but also surrounding areas, including the rest of DeKalb, Kishwaukee and Sycamore. There will be a one-year delay because of the installation of equipment and pipes. Satellite facilities in Hoffman Estates, Naperville and Rockford also are connected.

“In June, NIU connected to the Illinois Century Network with a 155 megabits pipe, a significant increase from the previous bandwidth of 25 megabits,” said Herb Kuryliw, network engineering manager for Enterprise System Support, the office that designed the campus and residence hall network upgrade.

Students living in Grant or Neptune may not have Internet access yet, because a shipment of equipment was delayed. Students were asked to e-mail the school before arriving if they wanted immediate connection

The residence halls should get their connection within two weeks or by the end of September at the latest, Czerniak said.

Students living in the residence halls will be charged a technology access fee of $48 per semester, which will be charged whether or not the student connects to the Internet. The fee will enable NIU to continue to provide a wide variety of technology services.

“I think online is a lot better now,” said junior communication major Jim McInturff. “I like how with DSL you can be online and on the phone at the same time, and now the download time is a lot faster too.”

Information Technology Services also purchased over 200 PCs for the computer labs around campus. Computers in the labs are also in the process of being upgraded to Windows 2000. They also have moved from a shared network to a switch network, which means offices, labs and residence halls no longer share the same network. In the spring, ITS also will explore the idea of providing services to off campus housing.

“In the past couple of years, all three of these things have come together,” Czerniak added. “They all had to happen at once. We wouldn’t have one without another.”