Campus News

Chester: Internet, wireless usage continue to grow rapidly at UGA

UGA continues to work to meet the demand for increased wireless connectivity on campus, according to Timothy Chester, vice president for information technology.

In his annual State of Technology at UGA address Nov. 12, Chester said the university has increased its total bandwidth capacity 20-fold over the past four years, as well as doubled the number of wireless Internet access points, bringing the maximum number of possible connections to 75,000 across campus.

Internet usage at UGA also has increased rapidly over the past four years, rising from 1.36 gigabytes consumed in September 2011 to 5.1 gigabytes consumed in September 2015. The number of registered wireless devices on campus also continues to grow. In September 2011, only 6,000 wireless devices were registered on campus. This year, that number has grown to 53,296.

The increased demand for wireless presents some challenges, particularly in the residence halls, Chester said. Students living in the residence halls use about 50 percent of the university’s total bandwidth.

“Students have positive perceptions about technology at the university in all areas, except wireless networking,” he said of the annual survey results from students, faculty and staff on technology services at UGA.

Chester said the university’s central IT department, Enterprise Information Technology Services, soon will launch a new survey for residents in University Housing to better gauge perceptions of the PAWS-Secure wireless network and find problem areas for technicians to address in residence halls.

The university is in the beginning stages of launching eduroam, an additional secure roaming wireless network on campus that also would allow UGA students, faculty and staff traveling to other participating eduroam institutions to sign on to the wireless network on those campuses using their UGA MyID and password.

“Internet usage continues to grow exponentially, and Internet connectivity is one of those foundational things on campus that has to work well in order for everything else to work well,” Chester said. “One of the great things about the leadership team we have at the University of Georgia is that we have a president and a provost who understand that and have been supportive of the types of financial investments we need to make to stay ahead of this curve.”

Increasing Internet bandwidth also has an impact on the university’s mission to support research. The university recently invested in expanded 1 gigabyte connections to its campuses in Griffin, Buckhead and Tifton, and there are plans to expand the bandwidth capacity at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography.

The university also is working to bring more services to the UGA mobile app.