NetFlix, YouTube, Facebook, Flikr, Blackboard, and WebCat— students want their websites, all of them, and in a quick manner. Unfortunately though, Western Carolina University’s bandwidth is not able to support them all.
Complaints have been popping up at every dormitory this year that the Internet is not working or is too slow. In an effort to fix it, Scott Swartzentruber, Director of Networking and Communication at IT, and his team replaced the campus’ bandwidth management appliance on March 5.
Swartzentruber, who has been working at IT for 16 years, explained that bandwidth is like a pipe of a certain size. The replaced appliance manages the flow of water and what type of water (streaming media, academic sites, etc.) goes through the pipe.
However, there have still been problems, according to the students.
Scott Botzenhart in Scott Hall complained of connecting his computer to the Internet cable and not being connected. Also, he could not view his Catamount emails or Blackboard.
“It’s just slow,” he said, “it’s terribly slow.”
Kristen Rivers in Buchanan Hall also said her connectivity was slow or that it was not connecting at all. Her complaints came after the upgrade in early March.
“It’s very convenient when you have an online class,” she said sarcastically.
In reply, Swartzentruber was surprised at the continuing issues.
“It was my understanding that the slow Internet connection issues were resolved when we did this upgrade,” he said. “However, if problems persist, there will be a new upgrade too hopefully solve the problem.”
If there are continuing problems for students, it could be because of their need for YouTube clips, online movies, and music videos.
“The real bandwidth hog is streaming media,” said Swartzentruber. “Things like Hulu, NetFlix… are what make up the lion’s share of our bandwidth utilization. Streaming media has always been a big portion… but starting last August when school opened for the Fall semester, we saw a significant increase.”
Since the end of the 2009-2010 school year, IT has seen a 25 percent increase of streaming media with those types of sites taking up 40 percent of the school’s bandwidth.
The rumors about bad connectivity circling campus are untrue according to Swartzentruber. Students have been saying the Internet was bad at Scott Hall because of the campus construction. Also, there was a rumor that said Verizon was bought out and now the server boxes had to be replaced. Both rumors are false. Western’s connection does not involve Verizon but a non-profit company that runs the entire state’s schooling system, including K-12 schools. Duke Energy then provides fiber optic lines that allow Internet onto campus.
Swartzentruber insists that the answer to students’ problems is to come to IT for help.
“If you know anyone that has been having issues since the fifth, I’d ask that they contact the IT help desk at ex. 7487,” said Swartzentruber. “We can get in touch with them to determine what issues they are dealing with.”
Students can check the connectivity status of particular Internet systems, such as My Cat and email, at IT’s website (http://www.wcu.edu/27156.asp). IT can be reached by phone at (828)-227-7487 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or in person during the Hunter Library hours.