Colleges and universities are doing a solid job deploying bandwidth on campus, but they also should turn their attention to Wi-Fi, according to an annual survey of campus residential networks.
Bandwidth on college campuses has almost tripled since 2012, with more than 71 percent of schools offering at least 1 GB and 1 in 4 offering 7GB or more, according to the ACUTA/ACUHO-I 2017 State of ResNet Report.
Fifty-five percent of campuses participating in the report offer campus-wide Wi-Fi coverage, and 77 percent offer Wi-Fi in on-campus student areas–a 6 percent drop from last year. Still, 87 percent offer robust Wi-Fi in academic areas, which is an increase from previous years.
Eighty-two percent of campuses with in-house ResNet currently use bandwidth-management practices to control the increasing demand.
Applications that eat up the most bandwidth and challenge campus connectivity include television and video apps such as Netflix (88 percent), rich content such as video (78 percent), music and audio apps such as internet radio and Pandora (61 percent), video games (52 percent), and cloud content such as Spotify and Apple iCloud (51 percent).
(Next page: How the Internet of Things is already impacting campuses in a huge way)
Devices that consume the most bandwidth include desktops and laptops, as they support video, audio and rich media applications. This year, smartphones surpass tablets and rank second in bandwidth-consuming devices.
Desktops and laptops give students “a larger canvas for complex games, virtual learning, 3D modeling software, computer animation or simply storing photos and videos,” according to the report.
The 2017 survey measures concern for bandwidth consumption among newer technologies, too. Drones (30.4 percent), wearable technology such as Google Glass, Gear VR, and smart watches (29.1 percent), wearable medical devices (27.5 percent), and wearable fitness trackers (27.1 percent) each prove to be of substantial concern.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing quickly and is taking a foothold on campuses around the country, causing bandwidth demand to reach new, unprecedented levels.
“The Internet of Things blizzard has descended on U.S. higher-education campuses, bringing with it unprecedented network challenges as student demand for bandwidth reaches new, higher levels every school year,” said Sharon Moore, chair of the ACUTA Environmental Scanning Task Force and Deputy CIO at Smith College.
But this demand has a silver lining, she noted, because more schools are finding solutions to the ever-present bandwidth demand.
In addition, more campus administrators are realizing the importance of technology’s contribution to the success of their schools. Ninety-three percent of technology officers and 77 percent of business officers said they believe a high-performing (coverage and capacity) ResNet is very important in attracting and retaining on-campus students.
Despite jumps in bandwidth demand and coverage, the majority of schools still need better IT support. Fewer than 15 percent of schools provide 24/7 support. Even in today’s digital age, low-tech support prevails. And all this while rapidly-evolving technologies such as IPTV increase the need for more holistic “anytime, anywhere” support.
The survey was conducted from October 2016 through December 2016, and represents 450 respondents from 320 institutions, a 77 percent increase in completion rates since 2012. Eighty-five respondents indicated their primary job was related to business and 173 to housing, while 192 respondents were from IT.
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