In May 2010, APU’s Information and Media Technology department (IMT) completed a contract with Verizon that increased the university’s bandwidth in an effort to combat pressing issues with the university’s internet connection. However, ever-increasing social media and entertainment demands continue to place a tremendous burden on APU’s internet connection and wireless infrastructure. “Ninety-five percent of our internet use is entertainment related. The most frequently used sites on our network are Facebook, Hulu, and Pandora,” said Jeff Birch, executive director of IMT. Games, music, and high definition videos on these sites use up enormous amounts of bandwidth and drastically limit internet availability for other tasks.
APU operates on two separate networks: one for students and one for faculty and staff. During the day, IMT allots more bandwidth for the faculty/staff network. Contrarily, the student network receives more bandwidth after the academic day has finished until approximately 8 a.m. each morning. “We try to be flexible and give each part of our constituency what they need,” said Birch. To that end, IMT gives any unused bandwidth to the non-priority group.
But perhaps a bigger issue is limited wireless connectivity, which is frequently confused with the bandwidth problem. On campus, many users vie for the same connection, which gets weaker as the space gets more crowded. Birch explains that this is what makes the internet experience at APU different from the one students have at home. “On a typical day on Cougar Walk, students may have trouble accessing the internet because of the sheer number of people attempting to use a limited number of access points,” said Birch.
Unfortunately, IMT has struggled to get the word out to students about these issues. During the spring 2010 semester, IMT held two informational meetings—one in Trinity Hall and one in University Village—to clarify internet problems and inform students about pending solutions, but only three students attended. Birch worries about this communication gap because he believes that both students and IMT need to understand each others’ concerns in order to partner together to find effective solutions. Senior Amanda Jobe ’11, student reznet manager, agrees that mutual cooperation is needed. “Everyone that uses APU’s network contributes to the saturation and can do his or her part to conserve,” she said.
So, how can the APU community conserve network resources? The biggest help is to limit the use of sites that use HD video. Using lower resolution videos may not look as good, but they use a fraction of the amount of bandwidth. Also, students should limit their use of the internet, particularly sites like YouTube and Facebook, during the academic day. Facebook games like Farmville can also cause issues and should be avoided.
IMT asks the APU community to partner with them to implement these solutions that will improve the internet experience for everyone and prevent the necessity for more drastic measures down the road. To learn more about specific solutions or to ask additional questions, please contact the IMT support desk at (626) 815-6000, Ext. 5050, or firstname.lastname@example.org.