ResNet has begun limiting the amount of uploading bandwidth available to students per week in an effort to bring the total usage back to manageable levels. Currently, ResNet is setting its per-week limit at 12 outbound gigabytes per student per week, which is comparable to about 17 CDs and three to four DVDs. This puts a cap on the amount of bandwidth that is available to use KaZaA and other popular file-sharing peer-to-peer services.

Students who violate the per-week limit will be notified verbally and through e-mail to cut back their uploading usage. If they comply, there will be no further punishments. If they disregard the warnings, they will lose access to ResNet and could be subject to further punishment through the Dean of Students Office.

“Our student use of ResNet to download and upload entertainment data ? movies, other video, music, computer programs, etc. ? is now bringing the ResNet system to its knees,” Director of Residential Life Logan Hazen said.

The 12-outbound-gigabyte limit will fluctuate based on other constraints, Hazen and ResNet engineer Chuck Sy said.

Downloads and internal sharing will not be affected by the new policy. Students will be free to trade music internally as long as there aren’t any complaints from outside sources, Hazen said.

Downloads aren’t “a significant part of our bandwidth. At this point it isn’t close,” Sy said.

Hazen agreed. “Students sharing with each other within ResNet shouldn’t notice a huge change,” Hazen said, “but anything external will be impacted.”

The main problem is with students who share files with the outside world, either on their own servers or through file sharing programs like KaZaA or WinMX.

“Ironically, outsiders downloading data from our students acting as ‘servers’ to the outsiders is the biggest problem,” Hazen said.”In addition, it brings the speed of legitimate academic use to a snail’s pace.”

Sharing with the outside world costs a lot of money, according to Sy and Hazen, because the university charges different areas based on the amount of outband band-width they use.

Close to $700,000 of ResLife’s budget goes to internet-related costs.

Bandwidth is like a huge water pipe, and water flowing through it is available to UR, the Eastman School of Music, Strong Memorial Hospital and Highland Hospital. This summer the university expanded “the pipe” from 45 megabytes to 155 megabytes, but demands on the system have grown exponentially faster.

“Basically, we have a finite pipe and you can throw a lot more at the pipe than can make it through,” Sy said.

The overload to the system has begun to limit the ability of UR’s servers to correspond with the outside world. Basically, the information gets to computers at UR, but UR’s computers are unable to tell the outside computer the information was received. Confused, the outside computers resend, causing a backlog and a dramatic slowdown in service. Controlling uploads is the best way to solve the problem.

The policy is not a result of trying to constrain copyright violations by trading music and movie files.

He said the university gets over 20 complaints a week from record and movie reporting agencies. Since day one, Sy said that the university has taken those complaints very seriously.

“We don’t have a problem with our students using peer-to-peer programs,” Sy said. “We just want them to throttle them back.”

Currently, ResNet only has the staff to focus on the top 100 weekly abusers. The top abuser allowed over 240 gigabytes to be uploaded in one week, which Hazen said is more than is used by the entire mail.rochester.edu mail server.

“They were using so much bandwidth that they were adversely impacting every other student,” Hazen said.

Penalties are cumulative throughout a student’s academic career ? punishments increase with the number of violations. A first time violator receives a warning from ResNet to lower their use levels. If they comply within a week, no further action is taken.

Second violations result in the loss of a month of ResNet service, a third in the loss of service for 90 days and discipline from the Dean of Students Office. A fourth violation means a student will not be able to use the university’s ResNet system.

Sy suggested students cut down the number of active connections, keep shared folders clear, and, generally, shut off sharing unless they know who is using them.

Hazen hopes to find a solution that students will be happy with. Consistently, students rate UR’s ResNet program in the top 5 percent of schools in the country.

“We want to keep it so students rank us high,” he said. ” We hope to do it by dealing with this in a positive, non-confrontational way so we can keep providing the service that students expect from us.”

Hildebrandt can be reached at thildebrandt@campustimes.org.



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