At least 100 public sector universities will soon be equipped with the most advanced WiFi technology providing wireless blanket coverage across campuses, enabling users to freely access internet in all open and indoor areas with minimum of 60 per cent of signal strength, power backup units (UPSs) for 24×7 services and achievable data rate of 10Mbps to each user.

This will be done under a three-year ‘Smart Universities Project’ launched in June 2015 by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan and will be implemented by Cisco in collaboration with Commtel.

According to details received by Online, this Rs2 billion project will also provide support of Eduroam services which enable students and faculty to freely access internet while visiting any other university in the country or universities abroad offering Eduroam services.

Eduroam or education roaming is an international roaming service that provides students and faculty an easy and secure network access when visiting an institution other than their own. Students will have to use the same credentials provided to them by their home institution to access the network locally, while authorization to access the Internet and possibly other resources is handled by the visited institution. All services will be free of cost.

The service is provided at the local level by the participating institutions (universities, colleges, research institutes etc). At the national level it is organised by National Roaming Operators, which in Pakistan’s case the Pakistan Research and Education Networks (PERN) will be providing. PERN is a research and education network of Pakistan which was launched in 2002.

Speaking about the initiative, HEC’s Director General IT Anwar Amjad said that the project is one of its kind initiative in Pakistan and will help students and researchers in their research and learning opportunities and will also complement the ubiquitous use of smart phone, tablets and emerging need of ‘bring your own device’ demand anytime anywhere access to digital contents and e-resources.

“The HEC, in the beginning, will transformed 100 universities in all over Pakistan including Azad Kashmir, into smart universities and intends to cover 30 universities each year, with further expected milestone of 7/ 8 universities in each quarter during the implementation period of 3 years.” he added.

He continue saying that in first quarter, six universities from one each from Multan, Gujrat, Karachi and Federal will be transformed into smart universities.