iTunes Responsible for Wireless Network Clogs

Nicholas Sasso

A recent string of complaints to Information Technology Services (ITS) regarding poor wireless internet connections has prompted a regulation of iTunes and its services for both Mac and PC users on the Colgate network.

It was discovered by the Network, Systems and Operations Team (NSO) that the popular Apple software has been overloading the Colgate network with traffic, leading to internet troubles. The issue arose as many students began to experience difficulties in logging on to the wireless network, namely in Curtis Hall and in the Parker Apartments.

“[The Student Operated Resource Center (SOURCE)] was receiving a lot of calls about the wireless performance problems,” Director of Networks, Systems, and Operations John Glattuso said. “And this has been going on for a couple of weeks now. When we looked into the problem we could see that ninety percent of the wireless bandwidth was being used up by iTunes.”

Such profuse traffic from the software stemmed off from students using iTunes to download music, movies, television shows and, most destructive to the bandwidth: high-definition videos.

“We were getting complaints from people saying they weren’t actually able to do their academics … this is an academic network first, and if people are calling up saying that they can’t do their work, that’s when we actually have to step in and do something about it,” Glattuso said.

The NSO team realized that all the throughput – information being processed during a certain time interval – from iTunes was overwhelming Colgate’s wireless hardware.

“We have the ability to monitor the network layer so we could see what’s using the available bandwidth like that,” Network Security Analyst Jesse Darrone, who investigated he issues, said.

In short, the excessive use of the bandwidth by the iTunes software led ITS to intervene by cutting access to the services. The response by the network was favorable; more students were able to log on without problems.

“We got feedback from those students who did complain [previously] and they said it did improve drastically,” Network and System Administrator Jen Servedio said. “And now we’re going to fine tune it to see if we can open up certain things that people need and block the stuff that’s really hogging the bandwidth.”

It should be noted that the iTunes restrictions only apply to the wireless network; students still have full privileges on the wired network. In fact, ITS constantly pushes for students to use their wired dorm room connection over the wireless for the gigabit connection it offers.

“A gigabit would be around 1000 megabits and the wireless is between 11 and 54 [megabits],” Darrone said. “Such a difference can be seen when you plug in; one’s internet connection is dramatically increased and relieves the stress put on the wireless network.”

For full computing needs students should rely on the quicker wired connection, until ITS can fully sort out issues with the bandwidth. In general, if there are still problems, the NSO staff greatly advocated comments from students.

“We can’t do our job without feedback, so we need to know what’s wrong and where the problems are,” Darrone said.