New Deal Doubles Internet Bandwidth

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The College recently finished negotiating a deal with Yipes Communication to double bandwidth from 30 Mbps to 60 Mbps over the course of the next few weeks. The deal will also double the bandwidth available to Bryn Mawr and Haverford.

Mark Dumic, the Associate Director of Networking and Telecommunications in ITS, doesn’t think this means students’ individual network caps will be raised, however. “The increased bandwidth allows the College to maintain the 1 Mbps standard for students despite more students using bandwidth.” Even with the doubled bandwidth, it would only take 60 computers operating at the cap to completely fill the fiber optic connection.

The most noticeable change, then, will be that connection speeds will be significantly faster during peak hours (late afternoon to 1AM). Currently, the school’s network is completely full during these times.

On November 29, students reported widely varying speeds at 11 p.m., as gauged by this test. In Mertz, download speed reports ranged from 35 kbps to 640 kbps. A student in Worth reported download speeds of 863 kbps. Another student in Mary Lyons only downloaded at 40 kbps.

Nearly universally, the test reported upload speeds close to the official goal of 1 Mbps.

“I still won’t guarantee that we’ll always meet that target but we should be able to get a lot closer after the full upgrade,” said Dumic.

The new service will cost the school roughly $50,000 per year. It is hard to compare this price to other institutions, because it is not a widely reported number and generic quotes are not usually available online for such large orders. Moreover, proximity to one of the massive continent-spanning backbone networks can lower prices.

Still, sites suggested prices ranging from $20,000 to $45,000 might be a reasonable price in large cities, with higher prices in the suburbs.

This upgrade should solve many concerns regarding Swarthmore’s internet connection, but ITS is already looking to the next upgrade. Currently, Yipes Communication is the only internet provider for the College, and only two fiberoptic cables connect the school to the larger network. Ideally, ITS wants to increase redundancy. According to Dumic, ITS is already in the market for an second ISP.

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