Title Still Loading Due to Insufficient UT Data Allotment

Rachel Freeman

It’s 11:58 p.m. You’ve just finished your final paper, and you are frantically clicking to a second window to submit. But suddenly, when you need it most, Canvas. Won’t. Load. The minute passes. It’s 11:59, the deadline has passed and your life is over. A situation like this shouldn’t be possible while connected to UT WI-FI. 


Off-campus students are allocated only 1GB per week, while on-campus students receive 10GB. The current free allotment for off-campus Longhorns is simply not enough for the 21st century student. UT administration should provide all students with a higher free WI-FI allotment to help Longhorns be successful and happy students.


UT administration recognizes this student need. At the beginning of this school year, they  formed a one-time review committee, the Central IT Executive Commission, CITEC, on University IT problems, including WI-FI allotment for students. Michael Cunningham, UT’s Interim Chief Information Officer said that CITEC will release its decisions in the next couple of weeks.


Such a small WI-FI allotment for off-campus students forces Longhorns to be careful about their web browsing choices. To put this in perspective, just one hour of Netflix during a lunch break will use the entire gigabyte. Cunningham said 45-50 percent of students’ WI-FI needs “are not met by the free tier.” This means students are either accepting a slower speed or have to pay to move up to a bigger data tier. 


WI-FI speed automatically slows when students reach the end of their free allotment. Although some websites, like utexas.edu, always have unlimited speeds,  most websites slow down to 250 Kbps (about the speed of DSL in the 1990s). Canvas and Gmail are both subjected to the slow down. UT policy is to officially communicate through email and most professors  require assignments to be turned in on Canvas. Unexpectedly running out of free data can have a direct and detrimental effect on students.


Despite it’s treatment of students, UT recognizes how essential internet access is to academic work in their generous allotment to faculty. UT professors receive 2,000 GB for free per week. While professors certainly have legitimate needs for internet access, 2,000 GB is an excessive amount and makes the student allotment look like scraps. Giving such a large amount of data to professors but not even 1 percent of their allotment to students makes it seem like the University excessively prioritizes faculty needs and ignores students’.


The administration provides approximately 6,256,000 GB total per week to our 3,128 faculty members, but only approximately 134,486 GB total per week to our student body of more than 51,000 students


When comparing allotments and just how much data UT is already providing, it doesn’t seem unreasonable for students to ask for a few more gigs. Even if total GBs provided had to stay the same for budgetary reasons, if professor allotment was limited to 500 GB per week (the $10 dollar per semester highest tier available to off-campus students), the total gigabytes left for student use would be approximately 4,866,486 GB. With this total amount, off-campus students could have 35 GB free per week. This would still leave 350 GB a week for on-campus students and preserve the 10 to 1 ratio.


Looking at these numbers, it simply doesn’t make sense for off-campus student data allotment to be so small. Not only is it unrealistic for student use, it’s insulting to receive so little from a university we already pay to attend. CITEC and UT administration should give us the data we deserve.


Freeman is a international relations and global studies junior from Cedar Park. Follow her on twitter @rachel_frmn.