IT&S raises bandwidth, sets limits on Netflix

Someone is stealing the Internet on campus. The culprit? Netflix.

IT&S reports that Netflix, Hulu and YouTube are congesting the network and impacting class productivity.

“Like all higher education institutions, we wrestle with the constantly increasing demands on internet bandwidth for all sorts of things,” said Chief Information Officer Craig Gray in an email interview. “Here at Guilford, we try to strike a balance between increasing bandwidth, supporting the educational mission of the College and allowing for the entertainment uses by our residential population.”

Bandwidth is a measure of how many bits can be transferred in a specific amount of the time.

About a year and a half ago, IT&S increased the bandwidth by 100 percent to 200 Megabits per second. At the time, Netflix was taking up about 65 percent of the total bandwidth.

“This year, we have started to hit the ceiling of 200Mbps and what they call ‘bursting’ over, at times upwards of 240Mbps,” said Gray. “This was actually causing problems with classes that occur after 6 p.m., when they needed to use the Internet for educational purposes. Again, the main culprit here is Netflix using regularly between 45-65 percent of the total bandwidth.”

To solve this problem, IT&S has limited entertainment bandwidth until 10 p.m., after which the bandwidth is relinquished to full usage.

This, however, is nothing new.

IT&S had already been limiting the amount of bandwidth that could be used for entertainment during instructional hours, releasing it after 6 p.m. They simply pushed back the restricted time from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Some students are concerned with the change.

“I understand the concern (over bandwidth usage), but Netflix can also be used educationally,” said first-year Cassidy Bennett. “I have friends who are taking the film critique class, and they need to watch movies during instructional hours. What are they going to do if they take that off?”

“They can’t limit that for us,” said first-year Mackenzie Jones. “We have the freedom to watch Netflix. Some of us care about watching Netflix more than what our teachers have to say.”

As it turns out, IT&S will not be blocking Netflix during instructional hours, but limiting the amount of bandwidth that can be used by Netflix.

“We are increasing the overall bandwidth to 300Mbps in the next month, and we believe that will be sufficient for the next year or so to accommodate all legitimate uses of the Internet,” said Gray. “We take a very balanced approach here at Guilford, whereas some institutions simply block all uses that are not legitimately educational or administrative.”

First-year Annie Smith-Estrada approves the change.

“I think that that’s perfectly fine because school should always come before Netflix,” said Smith-Estrada. “School should always be accessible on computers, and if Netflix is getting in the way of that, for both teachers and students, then its use should be restricted.”

The change is here to stay, at least for the remainder of the semester.