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The Increasing Need for Bandwidth for Colleges and Universities Whitepaper

According to a new report, “The 2015 State of ResNet Report,” published by the Association for College and University Technology Advancement, the National Association of College and University Business Officers, and the Association of College and University Housing Officers International, there is a major upswing in funding, bandwidth availability, and outsourcing, for broadband and WiFi usage on university campuses. Download Whitepaper Here pdf-icon Some of the results from the survey:

  • Over half (almost 52 percent) of the universities surveyed dedicate at least 1 Gb to ResNet (residential network), which is double the number from 2012, when only 26 percent of universities did.
  • More universities are seeing increases in ResNet funding, jumping from 38 percent in 2014 to 54 percent in 2015.
  • Despite increases in funding, though, the use of more bandwidth-dependent devices continues to challenge universities, such that bandwidth management practices are on the rise. The most popular methods are limited by protocol and blocking activities, such as p2p sharing and music downloading. Approximately 55 percent of universities that provide their own bandwidth also limit and/or shape bandwidth, compared with 21 percent that have outsourced their ResNet.
  • Less than 15 percent of universities provide 24/7 support. However, 68 percent of universities that have outsourced their ResNet have 24/7 support, compared with only nine percent of universities that have in-house networks.
  • As a result of the increased volume of traffic and devices, as well as the increasing need for support, universities are looking outside their walls for support. The number of universities outsourcing, or considering outsourcing, support activities has increased from 22 percent in 2013 to 38 percent in 2015.
  • Finally, while security remains a top priority for college and university business officers, there are no information security or internal audit teams in place at approximately 75 percent of the schools responding to the survey.

“Educational institutions are rapidly increasing their needs for additional bandwidth,” said Mark Mrla, P.E., PMP, Business Unit Manager for Finley Engineering. “For example, many institutions are moving more toward VoIP and IPTV. This will be placing higher requirements on their systems and require more bandwidth.” Video, of course, is one of the largest resource users of broadband, and, according to Mrla, more and more institutions seem to want increasingly higher resolution with their video. “Some users are even dipping their toes into the Ultra HD market, called 4K,” he said. “More and more universities are also starting to offer on-line classes, which are done over the Internet. This can even involve Skype or other types of video, all of which require additional bandwidth.” So how can Finley Engineering help with the increasing broadband needs of colleges and universities? Finley can conduct network performance evaluations, then provide recommendations, and then perform the engineering. “We do fiber build-out projects for organizations all over the country, and we have worked with universities,” said Mrla. Finley is an approved MiCTA vendor for fiber build-out services. (MiCTA, originally the Michigan Collegiate Telecommunications Association, is now a nationwide organization.) “We are committed to bringing the best of our knowledge and experience in broadband, IP Services and related project management skills to all clients including MiCTA members who can benefit from our expertise,” he said. Finley can also assist with new and replacement fiber networks. “A number of recent participants at the Association for College and University Technology Advancement conference told us that their fiber networks are 20+ years old, and they are concerned about replacing them soon, not only because of the age, but because the quality of fiber back then wasn’t as good as it is today,” said Mrla. Finley does broadband engineering for a wide variety of organizations such as telecoms, municipals, counties, electric organizations, universities, and others. With this wide client-base experience, Finley is in a unique position to integrate ideas, technologies, and overall solutions to best bring all of these organizations together into the overall broadband world; allowing all organizations to better capitalize on technologies and concepts such as the internet of things (IoT), smart grids, collaborative solutions, business/education/healthcare research and implementation tools. Finley’s IT group can also perform network security audits and IP engineering for colleges and universities. Customer expectations are high, and increasing over time, for multiple services delivered via networks- -regardless of holidays, what time it is or who may be on vacation. In addition, cybersecurity is of top concern in the industry, and with legislation debates taking place regarding this important topic, the time is now to be developing strategies, identifying and addressing weaknesses. Finley’s IP Services department is rich with experience, expertise and vision to address security, design, implementation and management of networking devices. Finally, Finley assures total objectivity in its projects. “We are completely independent of, and have no vested interest in, any vendors’ equipment or products, or any construction contractors, which allows us to protect the interests of the client,” said Mrla. “We do the engineering, and we then oversee the vendors and contractors that the client selects.” About the Author: Mark Mrla is a Finley Engineering Business Unit Manager responsible for developing national accounts business and leading development of Finley teams to deliver successful results to these companies. In addition, his responsibilities include project management, engineering, budgeting, scheduling and implementing energy, telecommunications and technology projects. Mark coordinates teams and processes for client loan and grant applications for various government programs. Prior to joining Finley, Mark served in various management and technical positions at MidAmerican Energy Company, Gateway, Inc., and owned and operated a private technology consulting company. Mark holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Iowa and has served in numerous leadership positions on various community and professional boards of directors and committees. Mark is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and is a registered Professional Engineer (PE) in several states. Mark Mrla, P.E. 507-777-2237 m.mrla@fecinc.com

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