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Wireless Maintenance

As more and more universities and companies set up wireless networks to allow untethered Web surfing, network managers are finding out what a pain it is to maintain all the equipment that keeps such systems running smoothly. Network researchers Steven Wallace and Gregory Travis of the Advanced Network Management Lab at Indiana University have come up with an automated tool that will free wireless-network operators from tedious and expensive hours of manually measuring signal strength and recalibrating transmission equipment. The system marries software to a rotating on-site antenna that periodically measures signal strength in all directions, then remotely makes any necessary adjustments to transmission devices. The Indiana researchers have already built a version of the technology able to manage small-business networks and are working on a more powerful version for university campuses and other large networks. That version will have enough range to help network administrators identify rogue users who are either monopolizing bandwidth or using the system illegally. Wallace and Travis hope to bring this technology to a mobile network near you sometime within the next year.

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