Many Weber State University students, new and returning, might not be aware that the TV icon on the WSU TV webpage functions as a real television. On Aug. 1, WSU introduced its IPTV cable, which hosts 50 channels, including two in high definition — free to students as long as they are on campus.
Students can now watch many popular channels, including ABC, FOX, KJZZ, CNN, ESPN, Comedy Central and National Geographic, free through a computer while on campus. Set-top converter boxes are also available for streaming IPTV on television sets in the residence hall lobbies and the lounges on campus.
According to network analyst Luke Jenkins, WSU is the first school in the region to offer this many channels free to students.
“The real advantage, and the reason we put that in there, is that more and more of our students are coming to live in the dorms without television,” Jenkins said. “You know, they’ve got their laptops and their tablets and their cell phones; they don’t really spend a lot of time just sitting in front of a TV as much as they used to. So, by using an IP-based system, we allow them to watch the programming on their computer, instead of having to use the television.”
Jenkins said that the current lineup of channels is paid for by the residence halls’ administration, and partly tailored to results of student surveys. However, channels might still be added or removed based on students’ viewing habits.
“Another thing that people don’t realize is that, with your standard cable package, a lot of the channels are infomercials, and channels that nobody really cares about. Every channel we selected has real programming. So I think it’s the essence of cable and satellite television, boiled down to the good stuff.”
While IPTV was introduced between semesters and not many students have yet been exposed to the service, Jenkins said that IPTV has already drawn support from WSU faculty.
“We’ve already gotten very positive feedback from some of the departments on campus,” he said. “They’re excited about this. … I sent out an e-mail to the technology folks on campus, telling them about the service, and it was the Communication Department that replied back and said, ‘Oh, this is great, we checked it out in our lecture hall, it’s very easy to use, we think we’re gonna use this a lot.’”
Nicole Byington, a sophomore in dental hygiene, said that she likes the idea of professors sometimes giving viewing assignments instead of reading, now that all students have access to certain channels through their own computer or the WSU computer labs.
“Maybe some classes, like for criminal justice or something, they have to watch something instead of reading it,” Byington said, adding that news channels or other educational programming could now be used for classes.
Some students, however, will not find much use for the service. Students who live off campus might not spend enough time on campus to have that much downtime, while other students are simply not interested in TV. Micah Green, an undeclared sophomore, said he is “not really a big TV-watcher,” and that he is not on campus enough to use the service very often.
“Personally I wouldn’t really have the need for it, just because I don’t spend enough time on campus to really have the desire to watch TV, and I’m never really finding myself in the dorms. It’s just I don’t have the opportunity to use it. But it does sound like something that I’d probably use if I had the opportunity to. … It seems like something that would catch on and be beneficial.”
Jenkins said he thinks it is important for students to get certain perks, like free television, when they come to the university.
“Especially for our on-campus students, this is their new home. This is where they’re going to live for the next 9-10 months. So it’s important that we provide students with some of the comforts that they’re used to; especially if they’re going through the stressful college life trying to work on their degrees, it’s nice that they’re able to kick back for 15 minutes between a class and watch some Cartoon Network or Sci-Fi.”
IPTV is available to watch at www.weber.edu/tv.