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Internet data pipeline quadruples at WSU Pullman

The data pipeline to WSU Pullman’s campus just quadrupled in size, from 155 megabits per second (Mbps) to 620.

    For the technologically challenged, here is a definition — Mbps measures capacity for Internet traffic. Viewed another way, it is the size of the pipe, a measurement of the amount of data that can travel to and from WSU Pullman Internet sites. And as the amount of data has increased, the pipeline has grown to accommodate it.

“With video conferencing, the communication needs of research collaboration, and all the other Internet uses, it was time for us to increase the size of our connection,” explained Dave Ostrom, director of communication and network services.  “The demand for this pipeline has been growing at a steep rate at the Pullman campus.” (See attached graph.)

Most of this increasing demand is not student-based.

“We limit the rates at which students use to connect to our system,” he explained.  “Student use is under control. It’s the faculty use, in conferencing and research, that has grown.”

The demand from the three regional campuses has not increased as rapidly, or to similar levels.  The size of the connections at the Spokane, Vancouver and Tri-Cities campuses are adequate now and network volumes are closely monitored to make sure capacity keeps up with demand.

The Pullman campus connects through Washington’s K-20 fiber optic network, so to quadruple the size of its pipeline, the campus took over more space on the existing fiber optic system.

“I hope this increase will last until we are able to put in our own fiber optic network, which would increase our present capacity by 20 times,” Ostrom said.  “I would expect that this current increase will hold us for two or three years.”

Asked to compare the data capacity of the Pullman campus system with other major research universities, Ostrom noted that WSU is “geographically challenged.”

“Many research universities are located in major cities where the main fiber optic cables are located. Many of those universities have capacities in excess of 10,000 Mbps. Our goal is to get a dedicated fiber optic line to Pullman with an equivalent capacity. We believe that capacity would position us for a medium-range time, but it is hard to predict beyond five years.”

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