Bandwidth Hike to Speed Up Internet
To accommodate for increased Internet usage on campus, Information Technology Services (ITS) finalized an agreement with the Connecticut Education Network (CEN) to purchase more bandwidth for a discounted price during peak hours. Beginning last night, bandwidth for the campus will now increase from 100 to 150 megabytes between 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
Ganesan Ravishanker, Associate Vice President for ITS, noticed that all 100 megabytes of bandwidth were consistently being used by the University at night, when most other members of CEN that use large amounts of bandwidth—such as K-12 schools and state libraries—are using little to no bandwidth.
As Chair of the CEN Advisory Committee, Ravishanker proposed to CEN that the University buy an increased amount of bandwidth during the night for a considerable discount off the normal price. Although Ravishanker said that he is not authorized to reveal the specific price of the increased bandwidth, he noted that it is 25 percent of the normal price.
After several months of discussions, the CEN agreed to the deal.
“Given the tough financial climate we are in, this price is so low that we were able to justify this as a worthwhile investment,” Ravishanker said.
Bandwidth, the rate of data transfer to and from the Internet, is provided to Connecticut school districts, higher education institutions and libraries by CEN. When the maximum 100 megabytes of bandwidth that the University purchases is being used, Internet speeds slow down—at times, users will receive a notification that the Internet is unable to connect.
“We’re hoping to see a noticeable difference in Internet speed from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.,” said Micah Siegel-Wallace ’10, a student ITS manager and one of the Help Desk employees most involved in testing bandwidth at different times on various areas of campus. “People should be able to do normal Internet activity without waiting an excessive amount of time for pages to load or for video to stream.”
The 50 percent increase in nighttime bandwidth will continue until May 31, when ITS and the CEN will evaluate the trial period and decide whether or not to continue it.
“The nice thing about this is that it’s very affordable for us and it generates extra revenue for CEN for purchasing hardware for K-12 schools and libraries,” Ravishanker said. “It works for everybody so I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t continue.”
Since the University pays a constant price for bandwidth throughout the summer months as well as during the academic year, increasing the default amount of bandwidth would be too expensive to consider. The University is only able to afford the increased bandwidth for the peak hours because of the discounted price.
“We’ve got to be realistic about what we can afford and what we cannot do,” Ravishanker said. “One-hundred fifty megabytes, by all measures, is a good amount more than what our peer schools are giving to their students at this time, with very few exceptions.”
In addition to increasing the amount of bandwidth available to the entire campus, ITS is capping the amount of bandwidth available to each individual user at any given time. This will prevent high-bandwidth activities, like streaming videos and playing games, from slowing down the connection for users who only want to check their e-mail or read an assignment.
Previously, when ITS increased the amount of bandwidth from 70 to 100 megabytes, Internet use on campus increased accordingly, which resulted in the connection speed remaining about the same. However, ITS is confident that this time, users will see a difference in Internet speed.
“Even if 150 is maxed out, that’s not a bad thing,” said Karen Warren, director of User and Technical Services. “Actually, we want to use what we pay for. We’re still maxing out at 150, but it’s getting spread out better so that you’re not competing so much to do something simple [like uploading pictures onto Facebook]. Other things might still seem slower, like downloading a movie.”
Siegel-Wallace hopes that publicizing the increase in bandwidth will encourage dialogue between ITS and students.
“Mainly when we get feedback, it’s because someone is calling us to complain that their internet is slow,” he said. “We don’t ever hear when changes are positive or neutral. ITS is only so many students, we can only be so many places, so if students have comments, we’d love to hear from them.”