IT increases campus bandwidth at no cost to students

Christine Lee, News Editor

Due to the increase of activity online, Information Technology has increased the bandwidth connection of the university from 110mbs to 260mbs this spring, meaning a faster Internet connection for the campus.

In an email to the campus community sent March 25, Chief Information Officer Gloria Barlow said the campus use of Internet bandwidth had exceeded its current connection of 110mbs due to the increased use of smartphones, greater use of streaming video, the transition to the Google cloud email system and other hosted services, particularly at the peak hours between 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“We were really hitting the ceiling on every bit of our bandwidth and we knew that we had to increase that,” she said. “Students, faculty and staff were feeling frustrated because we were still able to do our work but (the Internet) was becoming slower.”

Barlow explained that in her four years at Wilkes, the bandwidth connection has been increased 40 percent and this year, the bandwidth became strained due to the amount of activity occurring online on campus, which Barlow explained in the email the campus use of which will only continue to increase.

Despite the misconceptions, she said students are not paying for the increased bandwidth. The operating cost of $360 is being paid entirely by the IT budget.

In the email, Barlow explains that Wilkes is a member of The Northeast Pennsylvania Education Consortium, a non-profit corporation composed of Wilkes, King’s College, Misericordia University, Marywood University and the University of Scranton, which provides cost savings, services enhancements and efficiencies to members.

Barlow said in the email that the combined purchasing power of the member schools in NEPEC, enabled the organization to solicit proposals and obtain bandwidth costing $16 per megabit, which in total costs IT $360 per year, which Barlow said is a small amount in the IT budget.

Students are pleased with the notion of not having to pay for the increased bandwidth and are happy about the upgrade.

“I think it’s awesome,” sophomore physics major Richard La Manna said. “I don’t have to pay for any extra gigabytes being used or go over my monthly bill,”

Senior P2 pharmacy major Bethany Sharpless said she was pleased to hear of the changes.

“I’m happy to hear about it, I think it’s time that we increase it, considering the number of electronic devices each student uses,” Sharpless said. “I think it’s gonna be useful.”

Barlow explained that the contract for the increased bandwidth would go out this week and after it is signed, the increased bandwidth will go into effect on campus within 24 to 36 hours. She expects the increased bandwidth to go into effect completely by finals week in May.

“It will be really helpful to students as we’re going into finals, that they will not have any of that sluggishness on the Internet as they’re doing their final coursework this semester,” Barlow said.

She hopes the increase in bandwidth will be beneficial to the campus and is open to feedback from the campus community.

“To me the real value here is that we’re able to do such a great increase at such a nominal price,” Barlow said.