Video streaming and downloading consume 70 percent of bandwidth on some campuses.

University of Missouri students arrived on campus this fall with a slew of new electronic toys and immediately wrought havoc with the school’s wireless network.

Early on, too many gadgets were vying for attention, leaving some students unable to connect. There was, of course, a lot of virtual hand wringing and outrage from students furious and frustrated over the slow or severed connections.

Still, it was far from a total crash.

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“It was only in certain places, large lecture halls and crowded areas,” said Elise Moser, a laptop-armed freshman from Maryland Heights. “I’d get it in one class but then spend all the next class trying to get on the internet.”

The problems were traced to a software glitch and quickly fixed. But the incident is a reminder of the challenges faced by campuses nationwide striving to keep up with the needs of increasingly mobile students and faculty.

Like other schools, the University of Missouri-Columbia is in a state of perpetual upgrade, adding more internet capacity and mobile access points all the time. But this new school year already is proving to be notable in one regard, said Terry Robb, director of information technology.

Last year, the largest number of wireless devices connected to the system at any one time was 900. Already this year, the campus hit the 8,000 mark. Why such a massive increase?

“Well, the iPad came out. That’s part of it right there,” Robb said, referring to the popular tablet device and its competitors.


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