According to data collected by Online Colleges, approximately 76 percent of all colleges view bandwidth demands as a significant issue when attempting to provide students with high-speed Internet access. In addition, over 40 percent of students on a typical college campus have three or more devices connected to the school’s network at any given time. While 68 percent of schools offer unlimited bandwidth to students, some schools have started to put caps in place to limit the number of devices that can be connected to the Internet through the school network. For instance, over one quarter of U.S. schools limit students to five or fewer devices. Beyond that restriction, nearly one fifth of colleges limit the amount of bandwidth for mobile devices like smartphones or tablets.
Wireless coverage on campus as well as student housing is also a concern to schools. While over half of the colleges in the United States have “dense-capacity” wireless coverage on at least eighty percent of the campus, nearly one-fifth of all schools have less than twenty percent of the campus and residential areas covered with wireless service. In addition, only one third of all schools provide more than 500 Mbps of bandwith on campus.
Regarding bandwidth consumption, tablets and smartphones are responsible for the majority of bandwidth consumed on college campuses. In fact, ninety percent of colleges are predicting that tablets will be the device that needs the most bandwidth over the next few years.
Other devices that use a great deal of bandwidth include the iPod Touch, video game consoles like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, e-readers like the Amazon Kindle, and webcams that provide a streaming video feed to communication programs like Skype. Electronics that use less bandwidth include handheld video game devices like the PlayStation Vita or the Nintendo 3DS, smart televisions with built-in streaming video applications like Netflix and Hulu Plus, wireless printers and DVR set-top boxes like the TiVo Premiere.
While nearly two thirds of students would consider moving to new housing, like an off-campus apartment, if Internet speeds were unacceptable, that’s not the only issue that on-campus IT departments have to be concerned about when it comes to the school’s network.
Other issues include keeping a knowledgeable staff on hand, finding the funding for improving the network infrastructure each year, providing network support for both students and staff members as well as managing IP addresses on campus.
Technology departments are also being tasked with upgrading school registration tools to be compatible with mobile devices. Many schools are investing resources in developing mobile applications that allow students to check recently posted grades, register for new classes at the start of the semester, access course material and communicate with professors as well as other students in a particular class. In addition, some colleges are investing in IP video systems that allow instructors to record lectures and post them privately for students to catch up on material. This is ideal for students that can’t manage to roll out of bed in the morning or even students that simply want a recap of all the lectures prior to a major exam.