Most college students head to campus with an armload of electronic devices, from desktop and laptop computers to gaming systems, DVD players, and smartphones. Some of the gadgets are used for study, but many are for communication and entertainment purposes, which is causing problems for the institutions’ IT staffs as they struggle to keep up with bandwidth demand.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Ohio University, Athens, had to deal with Internet outages caused by students staying in their rooms and using their electronic devices during bad weather in March 2011. The outages happened despite efforts to increase bandwidth and limit use.
About 76% of chief information officers surveyed for a report from the Association of Information Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education said they worried about the increasing demand for bandwidth on their campus. In addition, 77% cited the increasing number of mobile devices as a major concern.
“A lot of these students are running YouTube, but what they’re doing is listening to music through YouTube, using up bandwidth, while they’re connected to the Internet studying,” said Jack Suess, chief information officer, University of Maryland-Baltimore County. “It’s just background noise.”
Netflix and music services make staying ahead of demand a headache, but it’s also expensive to provide the additional bandwidth. Ohio University reported its IT costs have risen nearly 107% from 2007 to this year. A 2012 survey of IT professionals found that while nearly 90% of respondents said their IT departments paid for the cost of network bandwidth, 60% reported not being able to recover the costs.