YouTube Giving You Problems? How Wireless Connectivity is Shaping Education Delivery


Ten years ago when colleges and universities started to really get serious about wireless access, it was more of a convenience than a necessity. Back then Netflix was still shipping disks, YouTube was just getting off the ground, Facebook was defining social networks, and this revolutionary device called an iPhone had just been released.

Largest Bandwidth Consumers by Application 2017
TV & Video Consumption (Netflix) 87.7%
Web-based Rich Content (such as video) 78.2%
Music & Audio (internet radio, Pandora) 61.3%
Video Gaming 51.7%
Cloud content (Spotify, Apple iCloud, etc.) 51.1%
Other social media 35.6%
Online learning tools 30.4%
Personal video & photos (Flickr) 28.7%
Interactive digital textbooks 13.3%
e-books 8.8%

Back when many of today's existing campus wireless networks were architected, the typical student only had their laptop to connect. Nowadays however, speeds and wireless range have caught up and the average student brings two devices to campus. A recent analysis of several college bandwidth usages shows that Netflix and YouTube are sucking up most of the bandwidth not just in dormitories, but throughout the campus.

When the wireless networks were implemented over a decade ago, no one would have imagined students and faculty bringing in a laptop, cell phone, and tablet on campus and connecting all three to the internet. I have spent a lot of time on college campuses over the last 12 months and rarely a visit goes by without seeing someone with all three devices in action at once. At many community colleges students and community members often come to campus purely for access to the internet to find jobs, read the news, check Facebook, and do coursework. For all these reasons, many of today's educational institutions are struggling with major wireless density issues.

With most college and universities now transitioning courses and even full degree programs online, campuses are starting to compete with online media sites such as YouTube and Netflix to deliver their own educational content.

Greediest Bandwidth Applications

In the recently published 2017 State of ResNet Report, it was found that while the explosive demand for Wireless access and performance is on the forefront of Campus IT technologists' minds, only 56% of colleges report comprehensive Wi-Fi throughout 81-100% of the whole campus. To make matters worse, 2017 shows a slight drop (6.1%) in wireless coverage of 81-100% throughout student areas on college campuses and there is a 3.6% increase in campuses that have scaled back to 60-80% robust coverage now. Colleges are going backwards, not forwards. Why?

A lot of the problem appears to be shifting priorities and demands on IT to just maintain network and IT infrastructure operations, let alone consider taking on a major initiative like a wireless overhaul. In a recent Burwood Group College Assessment, it was found that most college IT organizations are struggling to simply "keep the lights on" and don't have time or capital to invest in enhancements that could improve the student experience or enable more efficient methods to deliver education.

One solution to help IT Organizations suffering from such circumstances is to implement more automation and insight into what is happening on the network. Aruba Clearpass is one example of technology that is not only delivering consistent experiences, but is making IT more efficient and effective. ClearPass allows colleges to gain insight and control over who and what connects to the wireless network. In addition, its analytics can allow administrators to throttle bandwidth to sites giving priority to education resources. For colleges with multiple campuses, ClearPass can also deliver a consistent user experience with logging in using standard usernames and passwords no matter what campus or site you are connecting from.

Bandwidth Management Practices 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Shaping and limiting bandwidth by protocol 72.4% 66.7% 77.3% 46.2% 30.7%
Blocking activities such as P2P sharing, music downloading, etc. N/A 52.0% 68.1% 40.1% 33.9%
Capping network-wide throughput available to streaming video 22.9% 18.6% 25.9% 20.3% 11.5%
Implementation of cache servers 22.9% 21.1% 25.9% 25.4% 24.5%
Providing minimum guaranteed service levels by user 12.9% 15.2% 20.8% 10.2% 9.9%
Drivers of IT Telecommunications & Networking Services Ranked by Importance–Business Officers Rank Weighted Score
Reliability (uptime) 1 246
Security 2 235
Performance (speed) 3 199
Operating Cost Predictability 4 190
Capital Cost Predictability 5 157

There's no denying that today's students are increasingly more tech savvy, and base many decisions on their ability to connect from anywhere, anytime. We are already seeing a rapid mobility effort in K-12 as primary educators adopt more mobile classroom capabilities to appeal to the connected kids. In the next 5-10 years as these students look to higher education, the need for higher education institutions to provide the same connected experience could drive student admission and enrollment.

Burwood Group's solutions for a connected classroom ensure connectivity to campus resources wherever, and whenever needed with a focus on facilitating the way the students connect and education is delivered. To learn more about the connected classroom and future of education delivery contact Burwood Group.

Largest Bandwidth-Consuming Devices 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Tablets (iPad, Android) 83.5% 73.4% 67.9% 57.7% 54.2%
Desktop & laptop computers 75.0% 69.3% 76.5% 58.6% 62.3%
Video systems (DVD/Blu-Ray Players, Apple TV, Roku, Slingbox) 63.6% 49.3% 53.7% 48.9% 50.0%
Smartphones (iPhone, Android) 63.2% 64.2% 66.8% 55.2% 61.8%
Game boxes (PS3, Wii, XBOX, XBOX 360, etc.) 60.7% 46.7% 52.2% 41.9% 48.8%
Smart TV's 51.7% 37.2% 38.8% 36.6% 47.6%
e-Book Readers (Kindle, Nook) 27.8% 13.0% 9.4% 7.4% 27.3%
Wireless Printers 14.1% 5.8% 8.7% 7.8% 28.8%
Wearable technology (Google Glass, Gear VR, smart watches) - - - - 29.1%
Wearable fitness tracker (FitBit, Nike) - - - - 27.1%
Wearable medical devices - - - - 27.5%
Drones - - - - 30.4%


May 17, 2017