Internet Speed Disparity Needs to End
NDSU needs equal access across networks
Published: Thursday, February 13, 2014
Updated: Thursday, February 13, 2014 09:02
It’s 8 a.m. on a Monday morning. As I rush to get ready for my first class of the day, I realize I need to print a document from Blackboard.
After turning on my laptop and trying to access Blackboard, it becomes clear that it’s not going to be a quick process.
Instead of dealing with the incredibly slow Internet speeds we get in Niskanen Hall, I decided to tether my laptop to my cellphone. Verizon’s 4G network offers much faster Internet than we get from our lousy service provider CableOne.
But tethering uses up a lot of data, which cell-service providers don’t provide a lot of.
Unlike the rest of campus, residents of Niskanen Hall and University Village are not connected to the NDSU Wi-Fi network; each room has its own router and modem.
NDSU needs to extend their campus-wide Wi-Fi network to reach Niskanen Hall and University Village because students living here are subjected to third-world-slow Internet speeds. (Note: I’m told Niskanen Expansion is on the school’s network because it’s newer.)
There was an article in The Spectrum’s Monday issue that detailed the school’s plan to upgrade on-campus wireless speeds, but there was no mention by the school of improving speeds at Niskanen or University Village.
When I came to NDSU, a big reason I chose to live far away from the main campus as opposed to a building closer to the main campus was the promise of individual connections. That may have been a mistake.
I decided to conduct a few tests, using the website www.speedtest.net, I determined we have some of the slowest Internet service on campus.
Internet speeds are measured in megabits per second, which measure how long it takes to download or upload something to or from the Internet.
My first test of my room’s Wi-Fi network didn’t work because the Internet was so slow the test wouldn’t work.
The second test showed our Internet speed was slower than I thought possible. With a download speed of 0.08 megabits per second and an upload speed of 0.01 Mbps, I thought there must be something wrong.
After resetting our Internet router, I tried again. The results weren’t much better, 0.65 Mbps down and 0.34 Mbps up. A third test was about the same.
Even when our router was switched out, speeds don’t typically get above 3 Mbps down.
In contrast, our speeds out here at Niskanen are sometimes slower than the average Internet speeds in Afghanistan, DR Congo and Sudan, according to Speedtest.net.
At best, we get 2.9 to 3.4 Mbps, which is still slower than average speeds in the Philippines, Palestine and Mozambique. The average Internet speed for the United States is about 7.2 Mbps down.
Others on my floor in Niskanen Hall say they have similar problems with their Internet being slower in their rooms than on campus.
On the main campus, I expected the speeds to be much the same, but I soon discovered speeds on campus were much faster.
Two tests I conducted in the Memorial Union yielded download speeds of more than 50 Mbps, in the Quentin Burdick Building I was able to get about 30 Mbps and in Minard Hall I was able to get an astonishing 140 Mbps down and 200 Mbps up.
On campus, I had zero problems opening Blackboard or watching a YouTube video. In our room, that’s a different story.
When speeds dip below 2 Mbps and with four people on multiple devices on the network at a time, it becomes impossible to use the Internet. You can’t do a lot of schoolwork without reasonably fast Internet.