MILLIE, a junior medical student, sits down at one of the green pavilions near the canteen to have her lunch. She turns on her I-Mac notebook computer and leisurely munches on her chicken sandwich while checking her e-mail and researching on an online medical journal.

You wonder how that was done? Marvel not, for soon, everyone will have an access to the World Wide Web sans a phone line.

Surfing the Net involves two components—a computer modem and a telephone.

Now, as the UST Computer Center (USTCC) recently received five units of Nokia A030 Wireless Linked Access Network (LAN) Access Point from Nokia Philippines, Net-savvy Thomasians will be free from the hassles of finding a phone line just to access the Internet. All they need is a radio network card installed on their computers and a GSM cellular phone subscription. Be it a desktop unit or a notebook computer, the system enables one to access the Net conveniently in any place in the University.

In an interview with the Varsitarian, USTCC Network Administrator Bea Lacsamana described the wireless LAN access point as a device that is embedded in a building. Through an antenna, this enables a user to access the Net even within a two-kilometer radius from the unit. To transfer data, the unit uses high frequency radio waves, instead of ordinary copper wires found in conventional phone lines.

Users can avail of the wireless service when their notebook computer is fitted with a Nokia C110 Wireless LAN Card. By inserting a SIM card into the attached SIM card reader, they can access the Internet right away through the wireless LAN.

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The SIM card in cellular phones is needed to authenticate the access through the user’s information stored in the SIM card.

Now, users can retrieve data in a snap through its network speed of 11 megabits per second.

Simply put, when a user inserts her SIM card into the portable computer with a LAN card, this connects the computer with the wireless LAN, coursed through USTCC’s mainframe computer. As access to the Internet takes place, user information is transmitted to Nokia, which tracks down the duration of use for the computation of the appropriate charges.

Aside from UST, the University of the Philippines, De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila University were also given the equipment.

Lacsamana said that four of the units will be installed strategically in St. Martin de Porres Bldg., Roque Ruaño Bldg., Main Bldg. and the Central Library. The remaining unit will be reserved for use during special functions like international conferences and forums hosted by the University.

The devices can serve a maximum of 50 users at the same time.

Basically, students accessing the Net “wirelessly” will be given a password to enable them to enter the network.

Meanwhile, USTCC director Fr. Winston Cabading O.P. said that these units are not yet available in the Philippines.

He said Nokia intended these devices to be tested in the academic world. USTCC would take charge of gathering feedback from the students to evaluate the performance of these devices.

Once the results of the tests are favorable, Nokia will soon introduce them in the market.

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“Our concern is providing students with fast, reliable Internet access.” Cabading said.

However, the wireless solution may not be affordable to many students,
as a card costs up to $150 per unit. Nokia doesn’t expect use of this wireless access to peak very soon.

As of press time, USTCC has yet to finalize the details regarding the fees to be charged for using the network cards and the wireless Internet access.

Convenience is being offered by this high technology provided by Nokia, and this complements the mobile Internet already offered by giant cellular phone networks on high-end cellular phones. This technology also gives a taste of what third-generation phones will be like, that is, to offer instant and portable Internet access.

There may be no more Asiaweek survey for universities this year, but Thomasians should take advantage to learn and use new technologies like the wireless LAN whenever possible.

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