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School Networking question

Last response: in Networking
June 24, 2010 1:04:29 PM

Hello everyone,
I attend a small college of about 1,200 students, most of which live on campus. I'm going to be a senior this year, and for longer than I've been attending this school one of the main complaints about it is how inadequate the internet connection seems to be (this is right above/below the quality of our dining hall, depending on who you ask!). It has been brought to the attention of the college President and ITS staff repeatedly, and this summer they're attempting to solve the problem.

From working with ITS for a year or two, I know the following things about our network.
We have a 50 Megabit pipe from our provider that the entire school shares (about 40 of which is allocated to dorm rooms after 5 o'clock). Each student is capped around a 650kilobytes/sec transfer rate (judging by bandwidth tests conducted in dorms during off-peak hours). At about 2 o'clock when classes start to let out, the connection begins slowing down, and by 5 o'clock in the evening we are getting paltry speeds of around 50-60 kilobytes/sec, and around 30kilobytes/sec at night, during prime gaming time. Unfortunately, I don't know how many users are generally downloading things at once.
Our campus is wired using 100Mbit routers. This summer, they are upgrading our network infrastructure with gigabit routers.

My question to you is:
Do you think upgrading our internal network capabilities will make a difference, or are we really using all of the bandwidth provided to us? I know it is an odd question to ask, especially without knowing all the facts, but I am curious to know if anyone else has experience with the logistics of networks for a school this size.
June 24, 2010 2:10:44 PM

Hi there,
if you do a little math, you could see it that way:
40Mb * 1024=40960Kbit
40960kbit / 50 kbs = 819 person using 50kbs at the same time.
Is this possible? I'd say yea if you say there is 1200 students living on the campus (this is 66% student using 50kbs bandwidth).

If the ITS staff upgrade the lan to giga, that would speed up your lan game and lan transfer. I don't think you would see any difference through the internet though. You are already capped at 12mbs when using the 100MB network.

Here is another thing to think about. The ITS staff might be doing some transfer on their server (for example backup) that would take up some of the lan bandwidth. And they might be downloading stuff for themselves as well (update, isos and such).
June 24, 2010 4:08:10 PM

Thanks for the reply seacliff!
I have adjusted my original post, I accidentally showed kilobits instead of kilobytes, which is what I've actually measured our dorm room connections as. This probably makes the numbers even gloomier than they already are.

We never have trouble gaming on the network, but it's quite frustrating to limit our internet gaming to the mornings/weekends.
June 24, 2010 5:19:13 PM

@ seacliff: "You are already capped at 12mbs when using the 100MB network. "

backwards b's. You are capped at 12MBs when using a 100Mb network.

@halls: If you are getting 30KB (bytes) per student with that many students, and 40-50Mb (bit) total bandwidth, you aren't doing too bad. I'm assuming there's a lot of file sharing, gaming, watching youtube, etc. The question would be, how much traffic is going off campus vs. staying on. If they can monitor the router at the WAN port and graph that, or monitor the usage of the LAN switches, that will illustrate where the bottlenecks are. (I assume your LAN is using switches, not hubs).