Internet upgrade gives students room to breathe… for now

The graph above shows residential Internet maxed out completely from 9 am every morning through 1 am at night until last week.

Information Technology and Auxiliary Services are working constantly to improve students’ Internet experience on campus. On Thursday, March 1 at 11:30 pm, the Internet bandwidth to the residential and wireless network grew quietly and without interruption by 66% from 150 Megabits to 250 Megabits per second, or a quarter of a Gigabit per second in total speed.

As the university’s chief information officer, I can say that this is just one more step in a long line of upgrades to the Internet over the past several years, but it’s an important one. Students were maxing out the residential and wireless Internet from before 9 am every morning to as late as 2 am every night for the past several months. We knew we needed more bandwidth, and we needed it now.

When I became chief information officer in the fall of 2006, there were only 1,521 residential students living on campus, and the Internet bandwidth to the residence halls totaled only 20 Megabits, or about the equivalent of 8 home DSL lines of total Internet speed. In fall 2001, there were 2,037 students living on campus, an increase of more than 33% in 5 years. The bandwidth needs of the campus have grown even faster than the population, though. IT and Auxiliary Services have increased residential and wireless Internet bandwidth by 1,250% over five years, and we expect to double it twice more in the coming year.

We have more students on campus now than we did five years ago, but what’s changed even more is the way students are using the Internet and what types of services they’re using. Internet video is the largest single source of traffic already, and it’s expected to grow exponentially over the next several years. Thanks to the North Georgia Network fiber optic grant project, we’ll be able to grow another four times to one Gigabit of total bandwidth over the next year.

According to a report from Cisco last year [1], global consumer Internet video is expected to increase by over 700% between 2010 and 2015. And, a report last year from Sandvine [2] showed that Netflix had become the largest source of Internet traffic in the U.S. More students are using Netflix and Hulu in the evenings, and even beginning to use video communication technologies like Skype, Facetime and Google+ Hangouts to talk with family and friends. See the infographic below to learn some astonishing statistics.

Whatever technologies you’re using, though, the March 1 increase in bandwidth has made them faster and more reliable, and it’s only going to get better over the coming year.

[1] http://www.cisco.com/en/US/solutions/collateral/ns341/ns525/ns537/ns705/ns827/white_paper_c11-481360_ns827_Networking_Solutions_White_Paper.html

[2] http://techcrunch.com/2011/05/17/netflix-largest-internet-traffic/

This infographic shows the growth in online video usage in the U.S.

About Bryson Payne

Author of Teach Your Kids to Code, Speaker, and Professor of Computer Science at the University of North Georgia.

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