News in Brief: Internet Speed Doubles

George Waggoner, Director of Campus Technology Support Services, confirmed that on Feb. 15, St. Mary’s Technology Services and the University of Maryland Academic Telecommunications System (UMATS) successfully connected using a 100 MB/s internet line installed by Verizon two weeks ago. The connection fulfills services first requested one year ago.

Waggoner said the delay in announcement allowed Technology Services to test campus internet usage under ‘normal’ conditions yesterday, before students were aware of the increased speed.

He says the campus never used more the full capacity but expects that once students realize they can stream videos and other media content, the campus may use all 100 MB/s at peak hours.

The connection uses a more expensive Ethernet Private Line (EPL) instead of the originally requested Transport Land Service (TLS).

The 100 MB/s connection is more than double the previous 45 MB/s connection.

The increased speed was first requested by St. Mary’s technology services more than a year ago.

 

News in Brief: Internet Speed Doubles

George Waggoner, Director of Campus Technology Support Services, confirmed that yesterday, Feb. 15, St. Mary’s Technology Services and the University of Maryland Academic Telecommunications System (UMATS) successfully connected using a 100 MB/s internet line installed by Verizon two weeks ago. The connection fulfills services first requested one year ago.

Waggoner said the delay in announcement allowed Technology Services to test campus internet usage under ‘normal’ conditions yesterday, before students were aware of the increased speed. He says the campus never used more the full capacity but expects that once students realize they can stream videos and other media content, the campus may use all 100 MB/s at peak hours.

The connection uses a more expensive Ethernet Private Line (EPL) instead of the originally requested Transport Land Service (TLS).

The 100 MB/s connection is more than double the previous 45 MB/s connection.

Verizon Fails to Increase Speed

Verizon, the Internet provider for St. Mary’s and the entire University of Maryland system, failed to double the speed of the college’s Internet despite hardware upgrades that could deliver Internet speeds nearly 20 times faster than current speeds.

Last February, St. Mary’s Technological Services requested that the University of Maryland Academic Telecommunications System (UMATS), the organization that provides Internet to all Maryland public schools, increase the school’s current 45 MB/s (megabytes/second) Internet connection to 100 MB/s.

UMATS Chief Network Technology Officer, Norwin Malmberg, put in the request to Verizon.

After several missed deadlines Verizon installed the correct equipment on both ends last October. However, according to Malmberg, “we plugged everything in and it didn’t work.” Malmberg was told by Verizon that there was no connection between Hyattsville, UMATS’ central location, and Lexington Park.

Verizon then put in a work order to install a Transport Land Service (TLS) to support a 100 MB/s connection between Hyattsville and Lexington Park, which should have been installed with the other equipment.

According to Malmberg, the TLS could not be completed before the beginning of the Spring 2011 semester. Verizon would also install a temporary Ethernet Private Line (EPL) while the TLS was being installed.

“[The] EPL line is more expensive, more than twice the price,” said Malmberg. “But we have to live with it,” he added, while Verizon installs the TLS line.

In e-mails given to The Point News on the condition of anonymity, UMATS and SMCM were told on Jan. 6 that “all of the pre-work has been completed. However, [Verizon is] working through some contractual issue.”

Weeks later, on Jan. 25, a Verizon representative said in an e-mail, “I uncovered that the engineering work order that we completed back in December was for OC48 and not EPL.”

The OC48 line provides 2100 MB/s of capacity between Hyattsville and Lexington Park. According to Malmberg, Verizon is unlikely to use the increased capacity for St. Mary’s. “They will take the capacity and chop it up for other uses,” he said.

St. Mary’s Director of Campus Technology Support Services, George Waggoner, said, “they could have a [Vice President] say, ‘give them the connection and we will eat the money’.”

“The problem is not technical,” said Malmberg. “[I have] no idea what the timeline is for the orginal service we ordered,” he said. Malmberg and Waggoner also do not know when the EPL line promised in early January will be installed.

“When they have missed the deadline multiple times, you stop believing they will do it,” said Malmberg.

“Verizon should not give a date if they can’t deliver,” Waggoner added.

The cost of the Internet speed remains uncertain. In a rate sheet given to UMATS and SMCM last October, Verizon quoted the cost of upgrading from 45 MB/s to 100 MB/s as $104,640 per year.

However, in December the cost was quoted as $117,480 after UMATS requested that Verizon revise a three year contract they sent UMATS using terms and pricing from Verizon’s contract with the Federal Government.

In e-mails concerning the contract and quote, one official said, “Verizon folks tell me that they don’t have the necessary codes populated into their internal systems to allow them to order this using the state contact pricing and terms.”

Regardless of the price difference, Waggoner believes he can upgrade the speed not only to 100 MB/s but to 1,000 MB/s using $100,000 set aside to provide wireless service to residence halls.

“The SGA overwhelming said they would prefer faster Internet over wireless [service],” he said, “so it turns out once we get the line in, I have $100,000 to upgrade the speed.”

The additional $100,000 would more than cover 1,000 MB/s service quoted at $177,554 last October. Waggoner is unsure, however, if that rate sheet is still accurate.

Verizon officials did not respond before The Point News’ publication deadline.

The Wait Continues for Faster Internet

At last week’s Student Government Association (SGA) Meeting, Campus Technology Support Services (CTSS) Director George Waggoner came to explain the current situation of Internet on-campus, and gave students some difficult but exciting choices on its future.

Waggoner first explained why students have yet to see the on-campus Internet speeds increase; Verizon, which promised the increased speed via a faster connection line coming from University of Maryland College Park to Leonardtown, has yet to follow through.

He said, “We were promised [a faster connection] in April, in July, in September…here we stand with nothing” and that, “I stand up here embarrassed for Verizon and not for us. We hopefully will have connection in by the end of next year…they are working as hard as they can to get it done.”

Furthermore, according to Waggoner the University of Maryland Academic Telecommunications System (UMATS), which is paying Verizon for the upgrade, is withholding payment until the permanent line is put in (now slated for 2012-2013) and is having a temporary line at 100 megabits a second put in.

He said, “Right now you will have [faster connections] by February…but I’m not promising anything. I can’t.”

Waggoner then turned his attention to a major choice the college will ultimately have to make regarding its funds for CTSS: whether the community would prefer faster speeds or wireless Internet in living spaces.

Waggoner said that CTSS had done an analysis on how and where to put wireless routers around living spaces, and stated that they’d most likely be in the common areas of dorms and in every other living space in Lewis Quad, Waring Commons, and the Townhouses.

He further added that for suites and townhouses that the connection would most likely “bleed” into other areas beyond the common rooms, and that students will likely be able to pick it up in their bedrooms and around their houses.

He added, however, that the speeds would be slower than what students currently get from wired connections as a result of the connection sharing, and that the whole project would cost around $85 thousand.

In response, the SGA almost unanimously called for faster speeds over wireless, even though speed increases have a yearly charge while wireless is a one-time fee.

Townhouse Senator Senior Kyle McGrath said, “I’m fairly certain the…main cause of dissatisfaction is the speed of the Internet. I had an update for my xbox…it took me four hours.”

Townhouse Senator Junior Kevin Paul echoed the sentiment, and said, “I think that [speed] is much more important in the short term…but both would be wise investments.”

Waggoner, in response, said that the college would ultimately cover the expense, and that, “We’re going to do something about increasing Internet speed, but how fast you want us to do so depends on how much the college is willing to front.”

No Leaps and Bounds in Internet Speed Increase

Images Courtesy of Campus Technology Student Services.
Images Courtesy of Campus Technology Student Services.
Annoyingly laggy Internet speeds on campus might be short-lived, due to a soon-to-be upgraded infrastructure – or, on the other hand, could just continue. Although the College’s Internet speed is set to more than double in October, from 45 megabits to 100, this might not do a lot to speed up the most bandwidth-intense activity of Internet browsing.

According to Jeff Ranta, the Assistant Director of Network Services, the biggest bandwidth hog is streaming video. “That’s what’s really eating up most of it.” And Ranta thinks that the increased Internet speed will only help somewhat. “Once we get this 100 megabit connection, it will be nice, but it will only be a slight increase.”

The College pays its Internet Service Provider (ISP), the University of Maryland Academic Telecommunications System, for its current DS3 (or T-3) connection. But Ranta said it would only cost twice as much for the College to get an Internet connection 20 times as fast as what it currently has.

What’s the holdup, then?

“Our problem is Verizon has the only leased line that comes down to campus. … We’re waiting on Verizon to install necessary equipment in place to support 100 Megabits (download speed).”

Verizon would also need to support the gigabit connection, should the College be willing to pay. “It’s all a question of what Verizon can support… and what the College can pay.”
Ranta said he thought if the College could patch through to gigabit speeds, then the needs of students and faculty – and, increasingly, classes – would be satiated for some time.

This could be done through a partnering with others in the county to pay for the laying of a fiber optical cable. Then, St. Marys’ Internet connection would rival – and best – some of the far larger Colleges in Maryland.

“[It] might take 10 years to make back the cost, but once we have it we have it. There’s not really a limit of the amount you can push through fiber,” just a limit to the infrastructure supporting the fiber optical cable.