Blowing up the bandwidth


by Peter Kaspari/Staff Writer

After several years of hearing complaints from students, faculty and staff, Simpson College has improved its Internet efficiency by increasing the size of its bandwidth. Bandwidth is described as the rate in which data travels over a path. “Simpson increased our Internet bandwidth, which means that we increased the rate that information will travel between Simpson and the Internet,” Kelley Bradder, vice president for information services and chief information officer, said. Bradder said the increase in bandwidth came about due to the inefficiency of the way the system worked before. “Our existing Internet connection was saturated and information such as file downloads, videos and access to Web sites loaded too slowly,” Bradder said. “Students, faculty and staff were not able to access the information they needed to learn, teach and operate in a timely manner.” After announcing the change, Simpson officially made the switch on Jan. 27. The size of the bandwidth increased from 30 Mbs to 45 Mbs. Bradder said that the changes the Simpson community should notice include faster downloading of files, faster loading of Web sites and uninterrupted video play. The process to increase the bandwidth began with a survey to the Simpson community asking their opinions on technology. “We asked the opinion of the campus community through a technology survey and the desire for increased bandwidth emerged as the biggest need,” Bradder said. “The survey was created by the Strategic Technology Committee in order to assess the current technology needs at Simpson. A recommendation was presented to the President’s cabinet to seek funding. So the feedback that we received from the students and employees was instrumental in making this decision.” Senior Miranda Pham thought the increase in bandwidth was a good idea. “It will allow (students) to get done faster with less lag time,” Pham said. Junior David Turner said before the increase the Internet wasn’t as fast as it could have been. “Any Web site in general was just really slow,” Turner said. Turner said he thought the college’s decision  to increase the bandwidth was a step in the right direction for Simpson. “We’re growing a population of students and the amount of students isn’t going to decrease,” Turner said. “I think it was good because a lot of people depend on the Internet. The faster connection time helps.” Faculty are also pleased with the increased bandwidth. Tracy Lucht, assistant professor of communication and media studies, said her department in particular will benefit from the increase. “I hope that I will be able to have more success with streaming video,” Lucht said. “I’m imagining that I will be able to show more great video than in the past.” Lucht said before the increase, she would have trouble when trying to teach. “In my Journalism 2.0 class, I wanted to show streaming video from Haiti,” Lucht said. “That was a real problem because when you want to show multimedia journalists in the field, you want to call it up and have it ready to work.” Although Lucht is happy about the increase in bandwidth, she also hopes that there is still enough room to expand. “I’m thrilled that we have more bandwidth,” Lucht said. “I just hope we can stay ahead of our needs as a college. This is one of those cases where demand may always exceed supply.” The bandwidth increase is not the only new technology-related project Simpson is working on.  According to Bradder, a new type of software will be coming soon to Simpson and its computers. “We are introducing a presentation recording and lecture capture software called Camtasia Relay,” Bradder said. “It captures what the computer screen is displaying and records your voice or other sound at the same time. It works very well with Microsoft PowerPoint and Scholar.” Bradder said that she has many hopes for the new size of the bandwidth, and the advantages it will give to the Simpson community. “I hope it will give faculty and students easier access to online information and resources needed for student learning,” Bradder said. “The increase in bandwidth combined with our new wireless system are great tools for learning.”