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Nearly 3 in 4 Schools Allow Students to Connect an Unlimited Number of Devices to the ResNet

pile of mobile devices

The majority of colleges and universities — 72 percent — allow students to connect as many devices as they wish to the residential network. But far and away the devices consuming the most bandwidth on campus are smartphones, according to the latest State of ResNet Report from the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International. For its eight annual survey, ACUHO-I polled 351 higher education administrators at 200 institutions about ResNet trends, practices and policies to understand the challenges schools face providing high-performance networks in residence halls and campuswide.

Smartphones beat out both desktop/laptop computers and gaming systems as the biggest campus bandwidth hogs, cited by 73 percent of respondents compared to 59 percent and 53 percent, respectively. Emerging technologies such as wearable devices (spanning education, fitness and medical devices) are also chipping away at bandwidth capacity, increasing by about three percentage points over last year. And voice assistants (such as Google Home and Amazon Echo), added to the survey for the first time this year, are already perceived as large bandwidth consumers by 13 percent of respondents.

Largest bandwidth-consuming devices over time

Largest bandwidth-consuming devices over time (Source: "State of ResNet 2019 Report," from the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International)

When asked what type of data is using the most bandwidth, 89 percent of respondents pointed to TV and video consumption (e.g., Netflix) and 80 percent cited web-based rich content. Video games (60 percent) and music (55 percent) were also a significant drain on capacity.

To put that bandwidth demand in perspective, the study found that nearly three-quarters of schools (74 percent) dedicate bandwidth of 1 Gbps of more to the campus ResNet. And 29 percent of institutions offer 7 Gbsp or more of ResNet bandwidth. Three out of four schools utilize some kind of bandwidth management practice to make sure users have the access they need for both education and entertainment. The most common tactic, cited by 39 percent of respondents: blocking activities such as P2P sharing and music downloading. Other strategies include shaping and limiting bandwidth by protocol, implementation of cache servers, providing minimum guaranteed service levels by user, and shaping network-wide throughput available to streaming video. Notably, just 10 percent of institutions resort to individual bandwidth quotas, compared to 32 percent in 2012.

The full report, including an infographic summarizing results, is available on the ACUHO-I site.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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