Hold on to your computers, Colorado College, TigerNet2 is about to get speedier.
Long gone will be instances in which wireless Internet is inaccessible, and here to stay are many happy times seamlessly surfing the Interweb.
CC students and faculty alike rely heavily on the campus Internet connection to communicate via email, download assignments from PROWL, and occasionally view the next YouTube viral sensation.
Systems Administrator Joseph Sharman broke the news that CC’s Information Management is about to more than double the college’s Internet bandwidth.
“What is being upgraded is our Internet connection to increase capacity for Internet bound traffic,” said David Ziemba, one of the project’s network engineers.
Currently, each access point of TigerNet2 supports a maximum speed of 54 megabits per second (Mbps). There are 590 access points at CC, shared amongst many devices and interspersed throughout the campus. Each of the major dorms have approximately 90 apiece, and 13 are located outdoors.
The upgrade is projected to serve up to 300 Mbps for each client, given ideal conditions.
“I’m sure our IT folks are aware of some of those complaints, but actually it is the first time it has come to me,” Jill Tiefenthaler said, addressing the speed of TigerNet2 in The Catalyst second block.
“We have heard of isolated complaints with access to TigerNet2, CC’s internal wireless network, but I’ve found them to be problems where there isn’t a good wireless signal [to begin with],” Ziemba said. “Most have been caused by unplugged access points, or other devices that interfere with CC’s wireless access points.”
Some wireless access points have been using a room- or office-wired data connection as opposed to being cabled directly to a network switch. Ziemba said such connections are frequently unplugged for use in a device that needs a wired network connection.
Chad Schonewill, Director of Educational Technology Services, named unplugged access points as the most common culprit.
As for devices that interfere with CC’s wireless access points, Ziemba blames Bluetooth headsets, cordless phones, and even microwave ovens.
“The CC wireless system has detected 617 other wireless access points using the same wireless frequency channels within range of CC’s wireless system, which [reduces] performance,” he said.
Schonewill agreed with Ziemba, citing maxed out Internet bandwidth, unplugged or broken wireless access points in the area, signal interference, and too great of a load on signal access points as the primary causes for a lagging Internet browsing. During business hours, Netflix takes up 33 percent of available bandwidth, he said.
To combat this problem, Schonewill suggested utilizing an Ethernet cord plug-in whenever possible, especially in the dormitories or Tutt Library.
“Pegging,” or Internet rush hour, is also a factor in Internet speed.
“When the lanes are only so wide, only so many vehicles can flow, and the overall speed slows down for everyone,” Ziemba said. We have a finite amount of Internet bandwidth, and traffic greatly increases until it hits 100 percent utilization.”
Between the hours of 12 p.m. and 1 a.m., bandwidth reaches 100 percent utilizations, causing the general symptom of sluggish browsing.
The increase in bandwidth is necessary to “support the ever-increasing number of devices and higher density locations,” Ziemba said. “Currently, we have access points that have upwards of 60 associated clients during peak times at [locations like Worner and Tutt Library].”
“We have renegotiated our contract with our Internet service provider to substantially increase our Internet bandwidth,” Ziemba said. “As with all technology, the costs have decreased while the capability has increased. It’s astonishing to see the differences.”
Ultimately, the cause for the bandwidth upgrade is deeply rooted in facilitating the liberal arts education CC strives to award each student.
“There are time-sensitive protocols and services where Internet bandwidth is make or break…the Internet [enhances] established research or collaborative methods,” Ziemba said.
“For CC employees and students doing the work of the institution, quick and reliable access to academic resources out on the internet is important, particularly on the block plan where timeframes are always compressed,” Schonewill said.