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Hopwood Hall College open all hours with new wi-fi

A North West college has installed two wireless networks to provide learners and staff with around-the-clock access to its resources.

Hopwood Hall College brought in telecommunications specialist Pennine Telecom to offer up to 12,000 learners and 600 staff 24/7 wi-fi access across its Rochdale and Middleton campuses.

“It’s our vision to provide students with 24/7 access to college resources 365 days of the year and these networks are an important part of a three year strategy to achieve that,” said Hopwood Hall’s director of technology and innovation, Simon Evans.

“We wanted to create what I call the Starbucks experience for students so that they could grab a cup of coffee in our Bistro, catch up on emails, do some studying or research.”

Pennine Telecom installed 136 Motorola wireless access points to host the two networks, one of which provides free wi-fi access for learners’ own devices, such as laptops and smartphones. The other network is configured to support only college-owned and managed devices.

Mr Evans said: “There’s so much online content relating to the various curriculums and if students have got a couple of hours between lessons they can access it through their own device, or they can go to a Learning Resource centre and borrow a netbook.

“Not every student will have a PC at home so we want to facilitate access as much as we can. A student is also much more likely to go and search the internet for a project than they are to go to a library for a book.”

A previous effort to set up a similar network was thwarted because engineers failed to understand complexities behind the college’s building components, which range from brickwork to lead piping.

“With the Pennine networks it doesn’t matter if you’re up at our new 3G Sports Park in Middleton or the basement at Rochdale, you will get wireless access,” added Mr Evans.

Susannah Fairbairn

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