Students allowed 100 gigabytes of bandwidth before Internet privileges lost

Students might want to think twice before using torrenting sites and having long Skype conversations while on campus because of the network quota policies.

According to the network quota, excessive Internet usage could cause a student's Internet connection to be shut off. The network quota is a set amount of bandwidth, which is the total amount of data traffic that can be transmitted across a connection, that a student is allowed to use.

Central Michigan University has to buy bandwidth for the entire campus community, so if students exceed their allocated amount of bandwidth, 100 gigabytes per week, they run the risk of losing Internet privileges.

"(Students losing Internet access is) much less common these days," Manager of  OIT Communications Kole Taylor said. "In the past, it was much worse."

The network quota was developed to protect the academic and research functions of the university's network. In the past, when a limit was not in place, there were problems. If students were to use too much of the bandwidth, the Internet could be useless for academic purposes.

According to the Office of Information Technology, 5 percent of network users consume over 90 percent of the university's total bandwidth. The network quota was designed to improve the conditions of the 95 percent of remaining users.

OIT does not monitor the content of traffic from the Internet. The quota is based solely on the amount of data being transferred.

Taylor said students these days are usually not in danger of going over their quota and if they do, their Internet usage should be restored around 12:05 a.m. the next Sunday.

Normal web-browsing habits will typically not use enough bandwidth to put a person over the quota. However, activities such as peer-to-peer file sharing, torrenting, using Skype and video streaming all use a lot of bandwidth.

"We don't have a strict policy on torrenting or file sharing. It just can't cause someone to go over their limit," Taylor said.

Torrenting and file sharing applications allow users to download files from another computer, resulting in high traffic. Skyping and video streaming transfer high levels of information, which also use up a large amount of bandwidth.

"Skyping and video streaming are usually not much of an issue anymore," Taylor said. "If students are having an issue; I suggest they turn down the video quality."

Another threat to using bandwidth is computer viruses. Many viruses are hard for students to detect and could cause them to go over their quota.

"If students go over quota, I recommend they contact the help desk because they still may have torrenting files or viruses running in the background," Taylor said.


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