Students are using up Internet resources as fast as the school can supply them.
Since the beginning of Fall 2000, ResNet coordinators have taken steps to increase and to better manage bandwidth available to students living in university-owned and -affiliated housing. The overloaded hubs responsible for managing computer data transfers in San Rafael residence hall and the off-campus apartments El Dorado West and Westgate University were replaced with more efficient devices known as switches.
Last year, the bandwidth available to students living on campus was doubled as well, Assistant ResNet Coordinator Daxter Gulje said. Students used all of the additional 10 megabits less than 10 hours after the new system was made available.
Approximately 3,064 students share the bandwidth, which is like a computer pipeline carrying data between UCSB and the Internet and is measured in units called megabits.
“We now have a capped limit of 20 megabits to the outside world,” Gulje said.
For students working on computers in the dorms, doubling the bandwidth increased the speed to as much as 600 to 900 times faster than a regular modem during peak usage, excluding the bandwidth being taken up by file-sharing programs like Morpheus or KaZaA, Gulje said.
George Gregg, manager of Housing and Residential Services’ information systems, said file-sharing programs like these are the main reason the network slows down.
“One of the problems is that a lot of students don’t realize the default setting is to share all their music with the world. The world soon learns that UCSB has a fast connection and starts sucking music from them,” he said. “Solution: Don’t share.”
One of ResNet’s answers to the bandwidth suction has been “packeteering,” a system that prioritizes Net traffic. The highest priority is given to e-mail, chat servers and web pages, said Gulje. Web pages are contained in files known as HTML documents. This system has been in place since last December.
“We do prioritize some traffic where speed is important,” Gregg said. “HTML has a bigger priority than music downloads.”
Morpheus traffic has been given a priority level of zero, Gulje said, but still takes up 19.8 megabits of the available 20 during peak usage.
Students have also noticed areas where the network could be improved. Freshman computer science major Nathan Patrick has been talking to the ResNet staff about implementing a system called Multicast to the dorms.
Patrick said Multicast would allow multiple students to receive and view a video stream of the same class lecture simultaneously while using less bandwidth.
“Right now, nine tenths of the educational use of the web is on Multicast,” he said. “That’s an educational use of the network, but right now it’s not a reality [at UCSB].”
ResNet coordinators are considering student needs as they continue to improve the system, Gregg said.
“We are planning what kinds of advanced technology services would be most valuable to offer to our students. Some want a wonderful game machine. Some want music,” Greg said. “Next year when we open the Manzanita Village [residence halls], there will be a high-tech center.”
Gulje said the director of Housing and Residential Services, Wilfred Brown, needs to approve the plans before deciding how to proceed. In the meantime, ResNet plans a “Be Nice to the Net” campaign to educate users.
“Once they decide, we can either block traffic, open it up or increase bandwidth,” Gulje said
Sophomore cultural anthropology major Mike Quijano has lived in San Rafael, one of the most recently upgraded halls, for the past two years and has not recognized a change.
“I don’t really notice a great difference in the speed of the connection,” he said.