By Joshua Ostrer
In the April 19 issue of the Concordiensis, the article entitled “Union’s Internet: Bandwidth & U,” reporting on the current performance of Union’s Internet service, has sparked student involvement. That student involvement comes in the form of a student-based online petition to improve the quality of Union’s Internet speeds.
The petition, while less than a month old, has gained 300 signatures thus far.
The Union network currently limits students to a bandwidth, the measure of Internet speed, of 1 Mbps (megabyte per second) from 7 a.m. until 2 a.m. each day, under a throttle. The throttle is designed to allow all students connectivity to the Internet. However, many students see the current speeds as being insufficient for their daily use.
On speedtest.net Internet speed testing, the Union network rarely reached above the 25th percentile nationally, earning it a “D” rating, and sometimes reaching as low as the national “F” rating. The “F” national grade indicates a speed that is “slower than 91 percent of the United States.”
The online petition, created by Steven Stangle ‘14 states the basis for the complaints. He said, “The current speed of the student network is below the national average…These speeds put us on a level with average speeds in Sudan, Algeria, Malawi and Cote D’Ivoire. It is time for our network to be improved to a speed that is competitive with the national average.”
Stangle said, “I had always talked about starting a petition with some of my friends, but never actually followed through. After I read the article in the Concordy, I decided it was time for someone to step up and start a petition in hopes that ITS [Information Technology Services] will work fast to solve the problem. To me this is one of the biggest issues on this campus, and I knew that other members of the student body agreed.”
The petition, which begins with “ITS has said students have not complained about the network, well let’s change that!” has also spawned 21 student comments on the online petition for their reasons why they signed.
Aaron Glosser ‘12 reason for signing was “because this page almost didn’t load.”
“As a Union College alumnus, I was always embarrassed by how abysmally BAD Union’s Internet connections were. How can a school claim to be moving forward when its Internet connection still reminds me of the good old dial-up days?” wrote Daniel Barringer ‘11.
Student comments describe the network speeds as “shameful,” “unacceptable,” “terrible,” “horrific,” “pathetic” and “unusable.”
Many students have expressed their concern that the Internet speeds affect their ability to do schoolwork. “As a student I store, edit and access most of my schoolwork online. I use it to communicate with professors, peers and research collaborators. If the network is consistently poor quality, it affects my productivity and my ability to learn, which is why I am here in the first place. Please work to fix this problem” wrote Halley Darling ‘13.
Possible solutions are already being investigated by students. “In the last few weeks I’ve had several conversations about the network, all leading to the same conclusion. The school is paying for much more than we’re getting. According to several students, the school is paying for two 10 gigabit connections. In a conversation with Calder Phillips-Grafflin ‘12, we figured out that with a connection of that size, our network has enough bandwidth so that at peak load [when most students are using the Internet] the students get speeds that are at least four times what we get now. This means that the infrastructure that the school has in place is the problem and needs to be updated,” said Stangle.
To learn more, or to sign the petition, go to www.tinyurl.com/ ITS-Petition, or to test your own Internet speeds go to speedtest.net and compare your results to the national average