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PAL 3.0 upgrade, now in final phase, offers faster, denser, safer Wi-Fi coverage

Student Cate Falkowski is always connected to Purdue’s wireless network from her iPhone and her laptop while on campus. The senior in the College of Technology says the ability to check grades on Blackboard Learn, download notes at a moment’s notice and do research on the Internet is crucial to her academic success.

Now that Purdue Air Link 3.0 is available in nearly all of Purdue’s buildings, Falkowski says she’s seen a marked improvement in speed and reliability. The last phase of the upgrade, which covers common areas in Purdue’s residence halls, was completed this summer.

PAL 3.0, deployed as part of ITaP’s campus-wide initiative to offer faster, denser and safer Wi-Fi service, makes for fewer “dead” or hard-to-reach spots in campus buildings and minimizes device compatibility issues for those who have had trouble in the past. It not only is faster, it has better security and more widespread coverage than PAL 2.0, which will continue to run concurrently with PAL 3.0 after the upgrade.

While a minimal number of older devices may not be compatible with the new network, Jeff Schwab, ITaP’s director of data networking, encourages users to transition to PAL 3.0 to take advantage of its ability to deliver the range and capacity to support today’s bandwidth-hungry applications.

“The average building has three times the access points it did before,” Schwab says. “PAL 3.0 also uses the highest grade encryption available for 802.11 wireless networks to help keep data protected from unauthorized access.”

“Most students aren’t plugging in anymore,” Schwab adds. “We need to support their mobility. Researchers, faculty and staff also have wireless needs, so we want to make sure everyone can take advantage of these state-of-the-art technologies.”

Where accessible, PAL 3.0 will show up in the list of available wireless networks on mobile devices. Simply click or tap on the PAL 3.0 SSID and enter career account credentials to connect. Xpress Connect can help individuals connect their devices to new networks and may be accessed by connecting to the “PAL Setup” wireless network, opening a browser and then visiting any website.

For more detailed information, visit the Gold Answers article about PAL 3.0. A list of buildings that currently offer PAL 3.0 coverage can be viewed on the knowledge base.

Craig Dice, projects general manager for in-house project management, says completing the upgrade required careful planning with building deputies and other groups to avoid interfering with classroom learning, conferences and other important events. Maintaining close working relationships between Purdue’s job order contracting and physical facilities units and ITaP was critical to the project’s success, he says.

Information about additional Wi-Fi options for faculty, staff and campus visitors, such as eduroam and AT&T wireless, may be viewed on the ITaP Wi-Fi Options Web page.

Individuals who wish to report an area with a malfunctioning access point or poor wireless coverage may contact the ITaP Customer Service Center by email at itap@purdue.edu or by phone at 765-494-4000.  

Writer: Andrea Thomas, ITaP technology writer, 765-496-8204, thomas78@purdue.edu

Sources: Craig Dice, 765-496-6990, cadice@purdue.edu

Cate Falkowski, cfalkows@purdue.edu  

Jeff Schwab, 765-496-8283, jrs@purdue.edu

Last updated: Oct. 18, 2013