Slow internet? Students may be to blame
Streaming videos, online gaming, downloading music and multiple devices are making your devices function slower on campus. The before mentioned activities require bandwidth which is the amount of data that can be received at one time and which determines the speed of internet services – and make the internet slower for everyone, regardless of whether students are on campus or in the Juniper Residence Hall.
Central Oregon Community College’s campus internet is made up of two networks: the main wired network and the wireless network, which also includes the campus’ open community network that does not require a log-in. The main network is reserved for academic purposes while the wireless and open networks are available to students throughout the campus and especially where students and community members tend to congregate such as in the Boyle Education Center, the Campus Center and the Library.
When the internet is slow, it is likely due to non-academic use. However, the IT department is not looking to regulate how students use the internet on campus: over or misuse will simply leave students with the self-inflicted consequence of slower internet service in these common areas.
“We focus on the learning aspect first. That’s our job,” said Jeff Floyd, the Network Administrator. “The problem that we have is once you are on the network, especially the wireless network, you’re not policed or anything in terms of what you can or cannot do.”
“We have not been requested by faculty to make it a very restricted environment because it’s an educational environment,” said Laura Boehme, Director of IT Infrastructure.
The busiest hours on campus are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays due to greater class enrollment at those times. For example, there were 800 people using the network at its peak on Thursday, Feb. 12.
“If you have 800 people trying to stream a video, it’s not going to support that,” said Floyd. “If you have 800 people going out to a webpage looking for an article that may pertain to their class work, it’ll handle that. But, we all know that the majority of people out there – and the big issue is at lunch time and stuff like that – they’re probably not working on their homework. They’re probably on their Facebook or watching a YouTube video or something like that. We have a piece of our bandwidth carved out for that and it’s great if you can utilize that, but we also have a piece carved out for instruction, which is our priority.”
50 percent of the bandwidth is designated for academic use while the other 50 percent is generously designated for the wireless network in student areas, such as the Campus Center.
“The other thing to consider,” said Boehme, “is that every device that people have with them connects to our wireless. So if somebody has three phones, a tablet and a laptop, those are all looking for resources. […] So, if you’re using stuff and walk away, you could still be taking resources away from another individual.”
The bandwidth is evaluated and increased at the end of each academic year. This past June, it was increased by 50 percent on the Bend campus to one gigabyte, which is more than enough to support the campus’ academic needs.
“We have our main network and within the campus, probably about 95% of our connections are at a Gigabit speed, which is fast,” said Floyd.
The COCC IT department spends an estimated $120,000 annually to support the bandwidth and infrastructure needs on all of the Bend, Redmond and Madras campuses.
“With all our new buildings, it’s state of the art,” said Boehme. “We upgraded all of our equipment two and a half years ago when we put in a new voice and phone system, so all of our equipment was updated at that time to help support our wireless and wired infrastructure. So, we’re good. We should be pretty good.”
“We do really care that students have a good experience,” said Boehme and encouraged students to report any incidences or outages that may occur. Boehme also encourages students to take the “Computer Lab Everywhere” survey on the IT departments computer lab webpage, which was designed to see how students use the internet on campus.
Juniper Residence Hall
Most complaints about slow internet are likely coming from the residents of the Juniper Residence Hall.
However, the residence hall contracts their internet out to Bend Broadband separate of the COCC campus and is not on the any of the COCC networks.
The residence hall last updated its bandwidth in 2013 and is currently at capacity.
“We have maxed out our upgrade capabilities for Juniper Hall at this time,” said Paul Wheeler, Student Housing Coordinator. “However, we will be moving out of Juniper Hall as a residential facility starting this coming summer and for the fall. The bandwidth that we have is what we have available to us and what the students have available for the remainder of this academic year until we move into the new residence hall, which, as I understand it, will have a significant increase in bandwidth for all of those students. “
Until the new residence hall is complete, students will have to economize their internet usage in the residence hall to avoid extremely slow periods.
“When we do have major slow-downs, we try to educate the students as to what the causes of that slow-down are,” said Wheeler. “A lot of times, it’s not the hardware or the infrastructure, but a lot of times it has to do with individual students and what they are doing. We have to remind them that online gaming, online streaming and downloading music, whether legal or illegal, all of that takes up that bandwidth and can really have a negative impact on all the students. Even though some may feel that we need more bandwidth, we have to work with what we have. So, it’s about educating the students around that and just looking forward to the new building and its greater bandwidth capacity.”
Kelli Pangle | The Broadside