Greater Capacity, Greater Results

Kalamazoo College increases its student bandwidth capacity from 240mbps to 400mpbs.

By Sarah Wallace

A student’s laptop once served primarily to access academic websites. Now, the Internet acts not only as a portal to the Hornet Hive, but to the entertainment world. As laptops transform into televisions and music players, this technology-driven shift calls for a greater bandwidth capacity.

This quarter, Kalamazoo College’s Information Services has raised its bandwidth capacity for students from 240 megabits per second to 400 mbps. Before this latest upgrade, K had been nearly hitting its bandwidth capacity every day.

With the expiration of K’s three-year telephone contract with TDS Technologies, Information Services has invested in a packaged deal with CTS Telecom, their current bandwidth provider. Costing an extra $20,000 a year, Kalamazoo changed their phone provider to CTS and increased their bandwidth capacity. This caused for a considerable jump in K’s standing among other schools in the Great Lakes College Association (GLCA).

A survey conducted last October revealed that K had the lowest total bandwidth in the GLCA and the second lowest bandwidth per-student at the College. Now, K ranks as having among the highest bandwidth capacity per student. Pictured here is the survey, with the addition of K’s current bandwidth capacity.

Though the term “bandwidth” is often tossed around, the definition remains fuzzy for most people. It is often thought of as a higher Internet speed, but, in fact, it is rather just a higher capacity for Internet use.

This capacity is divided among all of the networks, including Res Net (for students), Academic (for faculty), Admin (for administrative staff), Lab Net (for computer labs and classrooms) and Guest Net (for guests).

While this increase is substantial, there have been many like it just in the past few years. In 2009, K’s bandwidth was only 40mbps. By Spring Quarter of 2011, it had up surged to 100mpbs.

The need for a higher streaming capacity is steadily growing. Greg Diment, the Chief Information Officer for Information Services, recognizes that the last few years have demanded a much greater mbps capacity.

“The demand for bandwidth seems to be ever increasing. In only recent years has there been streaming videos (YouTube, Netflix, etc.) and that drives the need for more data,” said Diment.

Students’ high level of streaming is why the greatest amount of bandwidth capacity is dedicated to the student subnet. In fact, 80% of the throughput is to students, while the other 20 percent is for all of the other sub nets.

While the Internet morphs from just a means of completing homework to a device that serves as a pastime for entertainment, K staff is willing to accommodate the ever-growing uses for the Internet.

“We recognize that there was a need for a large increase and are pleased that we were able to make that investment,” said Diment.

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