UT to require bandwidth purchase for top wireless speed

Sam Limerick

Use of UT’s fastest wireless system will require students to purchase of a bandwidth subscription plan beginning in the fall semester, the University announced in an email to students Wednesday.

In past semesters, students had access on UT’s “first class” network on a data-limited, 500 MB basis, but the new policy will require all users to pay. Those who don’t pay the fee to Information Technology Services will be placed on the slower "second class," network service. Since the majority of students already purchase bandwidth beyond the basic allocation, the change has been a long time coming, according to William Green, UT’s director of networking and telecommunications.

“The current 500 MB allocation and strategy is from 2005, and the goal was to move toward all bandwidth purchased by students,” Green said.

Students will be able to purchase plans starting at the prorated price of $3 per academic semester for a data allocation of 10 GB per week.

High speed Internet access on campus is necessary to the fulfillment of UT’s mission, and thus 95 percent of the cost associated with providing networking services on campus is drawn from sources other than the new fees, Green said.

“That last five percent, through this charge, is freedom to choose: academics, research, Netflix,” Green said.

A great deal of student Internet use is not tied to academics, and the installment of required network fees is not out of the question, Green said.

The plan exempts online University services, including Quest, Blackboard and Canvas, from the data allocation policies, and the University always places these on the “first-tier” network, even if a student is out of bandwidth.

Some students, such as economics sophomore Elizabeth Vigant, support the change. Vigant said the fee is a practical way to improve the efficiency of on-campus internet andmost students living off campus already have internet access at home. The fee should not view the change as an impedance to public Internet access, Vigant said.

Chemistry junior Munaum Qureshi, who said he has purchased additional bandwidth each semester he has been enrolled at UT, said the University’s fee is significantly less than the amount he pays in his off-campus housing.

“Compared to the $60 a month fee for Internet in my apartment, $3 for a semester is nothing,” Qureshi said.

Not all students support ITS’s new fee system. David Lessenberry, international relations and global studies junior, said he questions whether rates will increase in future semesters.

“What concerns me is that this is just the beginning," Lessenberry said. "What will future rate increases look like?”