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The University of Otago is part way through a $19 million plan to upgrade its internet network - which includes the rollout of free wireless for students and staff within the boundaries of its campuses.
The two-pronged upgrade, which was approved at the Otago University council last month, involves spending $12 million increasing the speed of the university network from 100 megabits per second to 1 gigabit per second - and $7 million to provide free wireless to students and staff within campus boundaries.
University director of information technology services Mike Harte said work on the two projects was about to begin and the "vast majority" of both was expected to be completed by 2014 - with some extra work in 2015.
A separate $1.4 million plan to provide free wireless to staff and students living in greater North Dunedin had been put on hold pending a feasibility study.
Mr Harte said the network upgrade would be replacing "end-of life infrastructure" and increasing its speed would cater for the growth in demand for bandwidth.
"This speed increase is critical to meet the demand from staff and students for research, teaching and learning, and administration," Mr Harte said.
It would also allow the delivery new "advanced" services which would likely be required during the lifetime of the new network.
The wireless upgrade would provide staff and students "ubiquitous wireless... irrespective of location within the boundaries of each university campus".
He said it would likely be a "couple of years" before a decision was made on whether to go ahead with the plan to provide free wireless to students and and staff in North Dunedin.
The final decision would in part depend on how successful the Government's rollout of ultra-fast broadband was.
Mr Harte said the university's network was eighth largest information and communications technology network in New Zealand.
"The university network is a fundamental and vital infrastructure which includes connections to and within the Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington and Invercargill campuses plus the Auckland Centre and Wellington city office," he said.