Posted by: Staff | 04.15.2008

Beaver planning to beef up Internet connection

TOPH TUCKER ‘08

It’s a common complaint: the computers at school are just too slow. Sometimes it may be an issue with the computer itself, although the school is constantly upgrading the machines. More often than not, though, what students are noticing is that the connection to the internet is slow.

Anyone fortunate enough to have been on one of the computers when the school is mostly deserted will have noticed that when you get it all to yourself, the connection is great. The issue is so many students doing so many bandwidth-intensive things at once.

In a couple months, Beaver plans to remedy that with a new connection 30 times as fast as our current one. While you aren’t likely to get much use out of it this year, we thought we’d give students a look at what’s to come. We spoke with Pat Ausman, Director of Technology, about the changes.

What is our current internet connection?
We currently have a T1 connection. It was installed 7 years ago. (Ed. note: hey, that’s when I came to Beaver! –Toph) It has a speed of 1.5 MB/sec. Some would equate this to the speed of what you have with a cable modem at home. It really is better than that because we have the full 1.5 MB/sec reserved while at home you share your cable speed with others on the same node.

What are we upgrading to?
We are going to install a T3 connection. It is rated at 44 MB/sec. We are also upgrading the main router and firewall networking boxes to make sure they can handle the additional potential load.

Why are we doing this?
At certain times of the day we are using 100 percent of our bandwidth. Last year at the same time we were using about 80 percent at peak times. With the explosive growth of video available on the web we needed to be able to better support our BCDS business processes that use outside database resources and provide more robust access to all types of web products for use in the classroom. We looked into various solutions, such as just getting an additional T1, but decided that a T3 connection would give us over 30 times the bandwidth for about 3 times the cost of what we spend now. We wanted more than just a one year solution.

When will it happen?
The physical connection of a T3 connection is different than a T1 so a new router has been ordered. The order for the line has been placed. Sixty days is not unusual for installation, though you can never tell. “The last mile”—which is the connection between our building and our service provider’s nearest point of presence—is only handled by the local phone company, not our service provider. This tends to be the most unpredictable factor in determining the timeline. Also, there will be some delay once all the pieces are here and installed to allow the switchover to occur in a non-critical time. (Ed. note: that probably means “not before summer break.”)

Should students be able to see a noticeable improvement?
Yes.

——

Thanks to Ms. Ausman and the Tech Department for keeping things running smoothly, and for keeping us in the loop.

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