By Shanna O’Mara
As students made their way back onto campus after winter break, they were greeted by new professors, new syllabi and even new Wi-Fi.
The bandwidth increase, originally scheduled for Summer 2015 but accelerated to accommodate students during this Spring semester, increased Rider’s Internet bandwidth from 650MB to 1GB, according to Carol Kondrach, associate vice president of Information Technology.
This past fall semester saw an increase in usage which caused lengthy loading times and even a short crash across campus just before finals week. Netflix, Amazon and similar services consumed upwards of 50% of the entire bandwidth available to the university, resulting in technological issues for all those utilizing the network.
“With the upgrade, we are in a better position to provide enough bandwidth to the university to allow for popular services like Netflix and Amazon to be used, without deteriorating the services needed for academic and business use,” Kondrach said.
By expanding the use of services in the cloud, students are experiencing fewer difficulties when logged into nowires. “The Wi-Fi on campus is definitely faster,” said Michelle Aster, junior elementary education major. “I find myself having to check MyRider or Canvas quickly before class, and it always loads at a fast speed.” Aster is a resident on campus who frequently uses nowires to access her Netflix account in her dorm. “I haven’t had any trouble with it loading, and it hasn’t buffered once,” she said.
Junior marketing major Morgan Dziura, on the other hand, has not seen much improvement.
“All I want to do is watch Grey’s Anatomy. I don’t need it crashing every 10 minutes.”
This project was financed from existing operating funds. Equipment costs totalled approximately $130,000 and were paid for over the course of three years by dipping into an account allocated for network upgrades. Declining prices of Internet bandwidth resulted in a negligible incremental cost.
With the increased bandwidth at Rider came the need for improvements in network security.
“The University made significant investments in equipment and infrastructure including fiber optic cabling, a router and firewall to accommodate future increases in the Internet bandwidth,” Kondrach said.
While staff and students at Rider are pleased with the outcome of the latest upgrade, even more improvements are on the horizon.
“Planning is already underway to expand the wireless network and launch Google Drive for document storage and collaboration,” Kondrach said.
Improvements such as the use of Google Drive already have professors interested in the syncing of students’ Rider email accounts and the drive features. Dr. Barry Janes, professor of communication, expressed this excitement in his video production class by discussing the benefits of allowing students to share and edit work online through their already existent Rider Gmail accounts.
The upgrade is designed to accommodate usage growth over the next three to five years, but technology experts at Rider are already looking to future improvements in the network.
By Shanna O’Mara