August 21, 2009 By Blake Harris
Northern Michigan University (NMU) has announced that it has deployed one of the largest active WiMAX networks in the U.S. on the 10th anniversary of its campuswide notebook computer program. (NMU and Lenovo have partnered for the last 10 years to equip thousands of students with the latest ThinkPad laptops.)
"Over the past few years, with Wi-Fi hotspots, NMU covered about 10 percent of the city of Marquette. WiMAX allows us to cover nearly 100 percent," said Gavin Leach, NMU vice president for finance and administration, in a prepared statement. "This makes us one of the first universities in the United States to be able to provide wireless access to nearly our entire student population."
Compared to Wi-Fi, WiMAX can transmit data over broad areas with less interference and more efficient bandwidth use.
NMU is one of the first universities in the nation with a WiMAX network. The 3,000 Lenovo ThinkPad computers being issued to students this fall have built-in WiMAX/Wi-Fi Intel cards. In addition to Intel and Lenovo, Motorola also participated in the WiMAX network deployment.
NMU President Les Wong added, "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. Not only will WiMAX help off-campus students have wireless access comparable to their on-campus peers, but the WiMAX network also extends Internet access to educational resources for students and faculty doing research and learning outside of the classroom."
Last October, the FCC granted NMU the Educational Broadband Service license needed to create the WiMAX system. The 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.
Photo: Academic Mall, Northern Michigan University by Bobak Ha'Eri. GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.