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Flood Watch: OHIO's Internet connection overflows

Monday, March 14, 2011
Sean O'Malley  

Edited to reflect updated information on 3/15/11 by Sean O'Malley

As rivers across the region recede from the first major floods of the season, Ohio University faces a virtual flood of its own.

With finals week in full swing, the university’s Internet pipeline is overflowing with media downloads, with the lion’s share coming from services like Netflix.  As a result, many students and faculty have at times had difficulty accessing essential academic services like Blackboard.

To improve access to academic online services, the university has increased the amount of bandwidth dedicated to its data center and instituted a 5 Mbps per user limit on residence hall download traffic. According to OIT network staff, this limit should be noticeable only to the small percentage of users who are consuming large quantities of Internet capacity. Many individuals actually will see a speed increase.

At 6:00 pm on Monday, March 14 and again at 11:00 pm, network technicians attempted to restrict just Netflix traffic; however, both those attempts resulted in Internet outages.

According to Chief Information Officer Brice Bible, the current 5 Mbps residence hall bandwidth restriction is not a long term solution. “The university community needs to have a substantive conversation about how we address the challenge of rising demand for Internet capacity,” Bible said.

Bandwidth average usage at OHIO between November and FebruaryBible notes that the university received a 10% bandwidth increase from OARnet in February 2011; however, demand continues to exceed available capacity.

Currently, residence hall students account for 68% of all usage, with Athens campus faculty/staff consuming an additional 23%. Mill Street Apartments, Greek houses, the City of Athens, and the Innovation Center together consume 5%. The regional campuses have the lowest demand, at 4%.

The top three bandwidth consuming categories are:

  • Streaming media - 60%
  • Web - 25%
  • File sharing - 7%

By service, the top media bandwidth consumers are:

  • Netflix - 28%
  • Flash video (YouTube, etc.) - 12%
  • HTTP media stream (Vimeo, etc.) - 9%
  • HTTP download - 7%
  • BitTorrent - 6%

Graph of typical day's bandwidth usage at OHIO. Green is download. Blue is upload.



Related Links

OARnet