Colleges are struggling to contend with the rising costs and inevitable expansion of ResNets.

Residential networks (ResNets) are essential to today’s college students, and universities are working tirelessly to secure and maintain them. A new report highlights important ResNet trends and challenges that campus administrators should be aware of.

The second installment of a five-year study from the Association for Information Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Ed (ACUTA) and the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) revealed that colleges struggle to contend with the escalating costs of ResNets, especially with shrinking budgets. Most of the 251 colleges and universities surveyed are meeting bandwidth demands, but they anticipate future obligatory expansions.

“The ACUTA/NACUBO study paints a vivid picture of the intensifying tug-of-war between rising ResNet costs and tightening budgets at many of our nation’s universities and colleges,” said Dee Childs, ACUTA’s Environmental Scanning Committee chair, who is also an associate provost and chief information officer at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. “It is our hope that the study will provide a comprehensive and coherent inventory of practices, perceptions, and priorities to help administrators rise to the challenges of the coming  years.”

The rising cost of ResNets is becoming a chief concern among campus administrators. As high-bandwidth applications and streaming services continue to expand, so do costs. To help combat this problem, colleges are attempting to provide greater connectivity options. Some colleges have offered students the option to pay for additional bandwidth.

“Reaping the rewards of technological leaps while maintaining both administrative and budgetary efficacy is a delicate balance for administrators,” said John Walda, NACUBO’s president and CEO. “This study is a positive step toward fostering greater cooperation and dialogue among stakeholders and an important contribution to helping higher-education institutions develop successful ResNet strategies.”

(Next page: How colleges are preparing for ResNet expansion)

Interestingly, the survey revealed that only 40 percent of campuses have a strategic plan for future ResNet growth. Fourteen percent of respondents were unsure whether their colleges had a current ResNet plan in place.

Twenty-two percent of respondents said they have outsourced or considered outsourcing portions of their college’s ResNet.

“Residential cable is the service most frequently considered for outsourcing by business officers, followed by phone and internet service,” according to the ACUTA press release. “The student help desk is likely to be considered for outsourcing by business officers.”

The study revealed that many colleges are struggling to maintain their familiar legacy infrastructure while advancing with new technologies. Colleges are often forced to increase internet bandwidth and ResNet speeds to accommodate the expansive number of applications and streaming services that students want.

Another costly concern is around-the-clock support; the survey reports that 88 percent of respondents do not provide constant ResNet support.

Read the full ACUTA/NACUBO “State of ResNet” report here.

Follow Assistant Editor Sarah Langmead on Twitter @eCN_Sarah.

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