College students are eager for more bandwidth and connectivity on campus, according to an annual report measuring higher ed’s internet offerings.

One in three schools offer 7GB bandwidth or more, while 72 percent offer 1GB or more–an almost three-fold increase since 2012, the ACUHO-I 2018 State of ResNet Report reveals.

Sixty-four percent of campuses extend wireless coverage to 80 percent or more of the whole campus–a 7.6 percent increase from 2017. Wireless coverage of 81-100 percent in on-campus student areas continues to increase year over year, from 77 percent in 2017 to 80 percent this year.

Seventy-four percent of business officers say reliable wi-fi is essential to driving their institution’s mission.

Campuses must have ubiquitous and robust wi-fi coverage in order to attract and retain students who are used to on-demand and on-the-go internet access via mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

Smartphones top the list for devices with the biggest bandwidth consumption, followed by desktops and laptops, smart TVs, tablets, and gaming systems.

When it comes to apps that consume the most bandwidth, TV and video consumption take up the most, followed by web-based rich content and video gaming.

Just 11 percent of schools cap bandwidth, though there is an increase in the number of institutions that control excessive bandwidth consumption. An increasing number of schools optimize bandwidth through shaping and limiting bandwidth by protocol or blocking activities such as p2p sharing, and music downloading.

Institutions are getting creative and are stretching budgets to expand wi-fi coverage and build sophisticated residential networks to meet students’ growing expectations. Last year, most annual budgets were less than $750,000, but this year most fell between $750,000 and $2.5 million. Just more than half of institutions (53 percent) said they expect the cost of wireless network services to increase over the next two years.

The report also notes that strategic planning and collaboration are missing from many schools. Over the past five years, the number of institutions with a ResNet strategic plan has fallen from 62 percent to 52 percent. What’s more, 40 percent of business officers and 49 percent of housing officers do not meet, or only meet annually with, IT officers. Fifty-one percent of IT officers say they meet with housing officers annually or not at all.

Most schools offer traditional on-site (80 percent), phone (89 percent), and email (91 percent) tech support, but not many offer newer methods such as social media (16 percent) or text message (13 percent) support.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Editorial Director, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura