New internet provider doubles bandwidth for campus

Even though the physical campus landscape has changed drastically through several ongoing construction projects, many students may think the most significant campus improvement over the summer happens when they power up their computers or tablets.

As of July 25, Union College switched Internet providers to a faster service at a lower price, meaning users will be able to access more content faster than before.

Network Nebraska, a consortium of institutional and government systems, will now provide the college’s service for 15 percent—more than $400—less each month. “The cost certainly interested us,” said Richard Henriques, director of Information Systems. “But the main reason for the switch was we needed more speed. We sometimes hit our bandwidth limit during the day, but at night the students constantly hit it.”

The move has doubled the bandwidth available to campus to 200 mb/s and given an improved connection with certain educational organizations. “We’re going to be connected with Internet2, an educational network with a very high speed backbone,” said Henriques. “It will be useful mainly for doing research, such as looking at large files from telescopes or medical schools. If the connecting site is also with Internet 2, the link will be a lot faster.”

The change also affects other organizations using the campus’ Internet connection. “We supply bandwidth to places like AdventSource and the Mid-America Union,” said Henriques. “They were also in need of more bandwidth and improved performance, so this deal has benefitted them too.”

Information Systems and school leadership continually strive to improve the college’s technological resources. “As the users demand more services we need to keep up,” said Henriques. “Teachers are using technology more and more on campus and it’s only going to continue to increase. We might have classes over the Internet, guest lecturers through a teleconference or our own teachers might guest lecture. Keeping up with the advances is important and impacts all of campus.”

Henriques hopes to continue to improve the wireless network on campus to complement the increased bandwidth. The wireless service in the residence halls was recently upgraded, but “more buildings need to be upgraded to accommodate wireless needs,” he said. “We also need to update the servers and their storage capacity—but one step at a time.”