CHAPEL HILL – In a $3 million dollar initiative, all 46 of UNC’s on-campus residence halls will have Wi-Fi access by the start of the Spring 2015 semester.

Larry Hicks, Director of Housing and Residential Education, says the University will install 2,000 wireless access points that will provide coverage to 3.3 million square feet of residence hall space.

“Over the last several years, particularly with the proliferation of smart phones and iPads and other devices that really use wireless exclusively, we really saw more of a need,” Hicks says.

Hicks explains that the first phase of the project is complete and WiFi has been installed in dorms on South Campus.

The project, which was launched in May and is funded by University Priorities and Budget Committee, is a collaborative effort between Information Technology Services, the Department of Housing and Residential Education, the Residence Hall Association and ResNet.

Stan Waddell, Interim Vice-Chancellor for Infrastructure and Operations, says Wi-Fi connectivity within residence halls was only available in common-room areas and lounges, and coverage within student rooms ranged from minimal to none.

“It’d just not become practical to rely wholly on wired network connectivity for a residential setting,” Waddells says.

An annual survey found that UNC was behind in the realm of IT compared to other peer institutions. Waddell says the need for an expansive Wi-Fi network became a clear necessity.

“Something the students have been fairly vocal about over the past couple of years is having more wireless connectivity in the dorm rooms, and it was heard,” Waddell says. “It’s just now we are in situation financially and technologically to be able to offer this.”

Waddell says Wi-Fi will be installed in four phases over the next 18 months.