IT expands bandwidth

The Information Technology (IT) department at the College has made improvements on the Internet bandwidth connection in hopes of speeding up Web access for both administrative purposes and for the residential network.

Although the decision to broaden the bandwidth was made several months ago, a recent survey sent out by IT asked students how smoothly and quickly they felt their internet connection ran.

With responses ranging from apathy to strong concern about the speed at which the Web was running, IT started the process of expanding the bandwidth and passing the Internet connection through two separate service providers.

“We want to make sure there’s a comfortable amount of bandwidth,” Craig Blaha, associate director of Information Policy, Security and Web Development said.

The biggest concern was that students would not be able to conduct research adequately with the original amount of bandwidth available.

“I’m dissatisfied with the speed of the Internet,”Angel Hernandez, freshman psychology major, said. “Nothing for nothing, we are paying students.”

His reaction as well as the reactions of other students has encouraged IT to alter the system drastically. In addition to the changes already being made Blaha said, “We are going to be tripling the bandwidth this summer.”

Bandwidth, as Blaha explained “is like a waterline coming into your house.”

The more the width of the pipeline is increased the more water there is to divide among certain locations in the house.

In other words, the more bandwidth there is, the more megabytes per second (mbps) of connection can be distributed to administration and the residential network.

Currently, a 45 mbps connection goes to the Internet and 30 to 32 mbps go to the residential network.

The problem with the broadening of the bandwidth is that it allows more room for viral attack.

As a result, in addition to the changes being made to increase Internet speed, there are also a few protection programs that may be introduced in the upcoming months.

For example, students may be required to have Norton Antivirus installed on their computers and run frequent updates of the software.

If a student still acquires a virus it has been suggested the IT find ways of quarantining the “victim” and booting him/her off the Internet until the problem is resolved.

None of this process was easy, as simple as it may sound.

Sean Sivy, another member of the IT staff, explained the intricacies of improving the internet connection.

He said it took “a couple days worth of time. The big change was the new Packetshaper …the cost to upgrade the current Packetshaper to this new one was about $35,000.”

He also addressed the survey saying “the most valuable part … was letting (IT) know what wasn’t working and what services were priorities to the students.”

It remains unclear as to how well the changes will work out, but thus far everything has been running smoothly.

If all goes according to plan, by next semester the improvements will be in full effect.