On a tight budget, CIT working to improve students' Internet access

As student demand for faster Internet service increases, Geneseo's department of Computer and Information Technology is looking for ways to improve students' experiences even on a tight budget.

According to CIT's Network Manager Rick Coloccia, a contributing factor to the current relatively slow Internet speed is that students have changed their Internet habits over the past 10 years, which has resulted in increased bandwidth demand.

"The problem is that the demand for Internet resources exceeds the capacity that the college can afford to subscribe to at this time," he said, noting the budget cuts that the college has faced recently.

According to Coloccia, however, CIT is undertaking a variety of efforts to improve the quality of Internet use on campus.

"We use a program called Blue Coat PacketShaper which allows us to prioritize everything entering and leaving campus," he said. "We also run an intrusion prevention system to drop all unnecessary malicious traffic before it enters campus."

Malicious traffic includes malware, spyware, viruses and more. CIT employs the use of access control lists, which drop incoming spam and monitor computers using Geneseo's network.

In addition to installing virus protection, CIT has blocked all peer-to-peer file sharing in compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which states that colleges must block file sharing in order to receive financial aid resources from the U.S. government. File sharing restrictions force students to use less bandwidth, in turn improving the quality of Internet service on campus.

According to Coloccia, 80 percent of Internet use on campus happens in residence halls. CIT is working to install Wi-Fi in halls throughout campus; wireless Internet is already fully available in Erie, Seneca, Putnam and Genesee residence halls and CIT plans to install Wi-Fi throughout the south side of campus by the end of this semester.

"We were fortunate enough to run across funds over the summer," Coloccia said. "Since student demand is so high, we've chosen to invest. We have just enough to put transmitters in halls on Southside."

Dean of Residential Living Celia Easton said she supports a move towards installing Wi-Fi in residence halls. "We are eager for students to have as much coverage as they can," she said. "It's an area we're hoping to expand."

For now the residence life department recommends that residents use Ethernet cables in their rooms, as it is currently the most dependable form of Internet in residence halls that do not have wireless access.

As CIT works to improve the quality of Internet use on campus, one student is taking it upon himself to get involved. Junior Nate Lu is currently drafting a petition to purchase more bandwidth. Lu's petition proposes an increase of bandwidth that would cost the school about $31,200 a year, Coloccia said.

"[It] may seem like a lot, but if we divide it across the whole student population, it comes out to less than $5 per semester," Lu said. It's a "small price to pay for faster Internet."

Lu said he is hoping to gather several hundred signatures and plans to show his petitions to predominant officers in the CIT and residential life departments.