Campus News Society & Culture

UGA sees more wireless devices on campus, greater demand for Internet service

Timothy M. Chester

Annual State of Technology presentation at UGA addresses emerging tech trends

Athens, Ga. – The demand for Internet service at the University of Georgia 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, at the State of Technology at UGA presentation on Nov. 11.

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

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

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 quickly 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 is also 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, according to Chester.

“Mobile is becoming the preferred platform for IT service delivery,” he said.
The university now has a mobile app for iOS and Android that includes the ability for students to pay their tuition on the app, view buses on a map as they travel the Athens campus, and check daily menus at the dining commons.

The university is also focusing on improving self-service access for students, faculty and staff for basic services. Over the past year, UGA has rolled out a new student information system, called Athena, which has replaced its previous class registration system, called OASIS. The university has also launched vLab, a virtual computer lab that allows students to remotely access applications like Microsoft Office 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,” he said. “You have access to vLab any time, any where, and have the same access to academic information using Athena.”

Meanwhile, the university is developing plans to update its finance, human resources and payroll systems, according to Chester.