IT Speeds Up

Shepherd University students returning this fall will notice an increase in the campus’ Internet performance, according to Shepherd’s Internet Services department.

Over the summer, the Information Technology (IT) department at Shepherd was busy with attempts to improve Shepherd’s Internet service for students and faculty. Changes include a switch from the Internet provider Frontier to Comcast as well as a significant increase in bandwidth allotment.

For those who are not computer savvy, the term “bandwidth” describes the amount of data that can be transmitted through a network in a specific period of time. In previous years, Shepherd’s network has been able to transmit approximately 100 megabytes per second. With the switch to Comcast and the expansion of the network’s bandwidth, Shepherd’s network can now transmit one gigabyte, or roughly 1,024 megabytes per second. In short, the network is now capable of transmitting 10 times more information per second than the old system.

The change was “a direct response to a need to provide larger Internet access that was more reliable,” according to Joseph Dagg, director of Information Technology Services. “This was a result of input received from faculty, students, and staff.”

In regard to user experience, Dagg says, “Many [students and faculty] will notice faster speeds, but to the common user, there will be truly no change in user experience.”

As Dagg predicted, some students and faculty have immediately recognized the improvements to the network and some have not.

Osman Guzide, associate professor of computer and information science, is quite pleased with the change in Shepherd’s network. He explains that the increase in bandwidth simply means faster downloading capability campus-wide.

“Since school started, I have noticed a remarkable improvement in Shepherd’s Internet; it used to take much longer to download necessary files and documents,” said Guzide.

Lizzy Robinson, a junior in the biology department at Shepherd, agreed with Guzide, stating, “The network is pretty fast now and my laptop seems to respond better after the switch. It used to crash on the old [network] all the time. Download time is much faster too; which I obviously really like.”

Some students such as David Smith, however, have noticed little difference at all. Smith, a junior in the history department, stated, “I can’t say I have really noticed a difference, but the network is not so bad. It does what I need it to do.”

For other students however, the Shepherd network is not just used for research and academia. As there are many students living on campus, it is expected that Internet will be used for leisure activity as well.

On a regular basis, sophomore Bobby Viands, a student of computer information systems and network security, and his friends gather in the Rams Den to play video games together. Internet gaming relies more intensely on bandwidth than casual Internet browsing and research.

“The network still lags enough to boot us, but relatively speaking, it does perform better; not really enough to notice though,” said Viands.

Whether the change is noticeable or not, there are other benefits to the Shepherd IT department’s decision to change from Frontier to Comcast.

“Comcast offered the best all-round value in regards to bandwidth versus cost,” said Daggs. “The bandwidth provided by Comcast is 10 times that of Frontier with an eight percent decrease in cost. This results in savings of over $7000 per year for the University.”

Aside from improvements to Shepherd’s network bandwidth, the IT department is currently working on almost 80 different projects to improve electronic communications on campus. One project is the enhancement of Shepherd’s wireless systems which will be gradually taking effect throughout this academic year.

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