The pros and cons of Technopark going WiFi

Soon enough the world will just be a click away anywhere in Technopark. Park authorities have unveiled plans for an ‘Open i space and data farm’ in a bid to ensure Wi-Fi connectivity across the entire campus, apart from setting up a high speed data centre. For the uninitiated, Wi-Fi is a networking technology that allows electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, smart phones and digital cameras to exchange data wirelessly over a computer network.

“The Wi-Fi plan has been in the works for a while now, in continuation of our overall plan to ensure Technopark retains its status as the premier IT destination and also in a bid to make certain Technopark maintain its standing as the greenest IT park in the country,” says M. Vasudevan, Senior Manager, Business Development at Technopark. “At present Wi-Fi is available only within individual companies [most companies on campus do have Wi-Fi connectivity, but it is only accessible to their employees]. We plan to set up 8GB connectivity outside the four walls of the companies, especially in common areas such as food courts, Park Centre, the guest house, Technopark club house… It does not require much effort on our part and hopefully it should be up and running within the next six months, may be even less,” adds Vasudevan. The techies themselves seem quite thrilled at the prospect. Nadam R. Bhadran, a network engineer with E-Team Informatica at Technopark says: “I think it’s high time for WiFi connectivity on campus. Actually, I feel that it should have been done years ago! Having Wi-Fi in an area like the food court, for example, will be very helpful. It means that if we have to deal with an urgent task, we don’t need to chuck our food and rush back to our office computers as we usually do now. With our laptops or smart phones we can simply sit wherever and finish off the work.” Techie Vineesh P., who works at IBS, agrees and adds: “Who will not want to have unlimited access to Wi-Fi? I think it will be especially beneficial to our clients who come from across the world to Technopark, most of who expect – and demand – high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity wherever they go. Right now we can only give them access to our office networks and that too on a restricted basis. Most of them would have 2G and 3G smart phones and would be connected to the net. However, working with Wi-Fi is any day better than working with a limited GPRS connection. Of course, you don’t have to pay the roaming bills too.”

As thrilled as they are about having Wi-Fi on campus, the techies are also a bit concerned about the feasibility of such a project considering the vast area that it has to cover and the fact that there are 40,000-plus potential users on campus. “It would have to have an exceptionally huge bandwidth,” says Nadam, a tad sceptically. They say that there could also be potential threats to security with unrestricted access to Wi-Fi.

“With such open connections where hundreds of people can connect on at the same time, it’s very difficult to keep track of who is viewing adult content, doing unauthorised downloads, checking out pirate software sites, and so on. It can open the door to potential hackers too,” says Rajesh G., a system administrator at Toonz, who has to monitor the company’s in-house network as a part of his daily routine.

Then they say there’s also the question of it being a productivity nightmare from a human resources perspective. “As of now social networking sites are not accessible on most office computers to ensure maximum productivity. I am sure everyone will utilise the Wi-Fi to log on to the same!” says Vineesh. Vasudevan, however, says that there is no cause for undue worry. “We will have mechanisms in place to avoid such issues. We will have active auditing, monitoring and filtering systems in place with firewalls, security codes and the like. Also we plan to restrict access to the network with passwords,” he explains. Guess it’s time to get clicking.