Campus News

Chester: Demand for Internet service growing rapidly

The demand for Internet service at UGA is growing rapidly—just as people are using more of their own wireless devices on campus. That was the message delivered by Tim Chester, vice president for information technology, Nov. 11 at the State of Technology at UGA presentation.

“We’re living in a connected world,” said Chester during his address at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education. “People rely on that network for accessing information and connecting to others.”

The State of Technology is an annual presentation that highlights technology trends and major IT initiatives at UGA. Chester also reviews the results of an annual survey of students, faculty and staff that help shape future technology projects at the university.

Chester said Internet usage at the university is growing exponentially. Three years ago, UGA’s Internet usage averaged 1.36 gigabits each fall, which is a unit storage capacity for networks. By September 2014, that figure had grown to 3.9 gigabits. Demand for Internet service also spikes greatly during sporting events, like March Madness and the World Cup, and when Apple releases a new iOS update, according to Chester.

“We actually went up to 6 gigabits the day that iOS 8 was released by Apple,” he said.

The number of phones, tablets and laptops accessing UGA’s wireless network also is growing at a staggering rate, according to Chester.

“This fall, we had almost 30,000 wireless devices registered on campus,” he said. “There are huge challenges in supporting this exponential growth in demand.”

In September 2011, there were 6,000 devices registered to UGA’s wireless network. By September 2013, that figure had grown to 22,000 devices. As of September 2014, the number of devices on the university’s wireless network reached 29,500.

As people depend more on their mobile devices, UGA is making some of its key services more mobile friendly.

“Mobile is becoming the preferred platform for IT service delivery,” Chester said.

The university now has a mobile app for iOS and Android that includes the ability for students to pay their tuition via the app, view buses on a map as they travel the Athens campus and check daily menus at the dining commons.

The university also is focusing on improving self-service access for students, faculty and staff for basic services. Over the past year, UGA has rolled out the new student information system Athena, which has replaced its previous class registration system, called OASIS. The university also has launched vLab, a virtual computer lab that allows students to remotely access applications and statistical software tools.

“We live in a very, very self-service world. We’re trying to keep up with that preference by offering IT services any time, any place,” Chester said. “You have access to vLab any time, any where, and have the same access to academic information using Athena.”