By MICAH FENNER
On Monday, January 31, many students assumed they were experiencing a normal internet outage at school. In reality, IT Director Tony Gruen and Technology Associate Josh Goffstein were at work upgrading the school’s internet speed. The internet now operates at speeds of up to ten times faster than the old connection, according to testing conducted by The Observer.
Students have been complaining about the slow speed of the school’s internet connection since the start of the school year. With a single T1 line handling all of the school’s traffic coupled with the newly initiated laptop program, internet speeds at the school would dip as low as .2 megabits per second.
T1 lines are known to run at speeds as high as 1.5 megabits per second, which is about 60 times as fast as a home internet connection. However, with many students streaming video and music, and also downloading files, the internet speed rapidly deteriorates.
Interestingly, in Finland, where broadband internet is legally considered to be a human right, speeds as low as .2 megabits per second would be treated as a human rights violation. “We considered the role of the internet in Finns everyday life. Internet services are no longer just for entertainment,” Finland’s Communication Minister Suvi Linden told the BBC in July. Finnish law mandates all citizens have access to at least 1 megabit per second.
T1 lines can cost upwards of $100. A T3 line, which runs at 43 megabits per second, can cost upwards of $10,000.
With students and teachers alike complaining about the internet and the inability to do things like watch YouTube videos in class, the school decided to take action. The new network enables the potential for much more advanced multimedia experiences in classes. No longer will students watching Netflix during study hall prevent other students from watching educational online videos, or doing research on the internet in class. Teachers will also be able to have students watch clips on YouTube collectively, whereas in the past the heavy usage of streaming video in one classroom would make the internet too slow to function.