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New Report Tracks Growing Student Resident Network Services

March 4, 2013

The 2013 ACUTA/NACUBO State of ResNet Report finds that 61 percent of institutions expect the costs of providing on-campus residential network (ResNet) services to students to rise over the next two years, with nearly half of respondents expecting costs to rise by 5 percent or more. The 2013 ACUTA/NACUBO survey is the second annual examination of issues facing campuses and their computer networks in campus dormitories and other on-campus residential facilities. This year's survey is the first one to be co-sponsored by NACUBO, which enabled the researchers to include both information technology and business offices in the survey population. The survey results provide a snapshot of the current state of costs and use of residential networks on college campuses.

The 2013 survey results include responses from 280 respondents at 251 U.S. colleges and universities, based on a sample of 1,700 institutions that were invited to participate. Business offices represented roughly 16 percent of the respondents. The overall survey margin of error is 5.7 percent.

The results demonstrate a growing strain on campus ResNet infrastructure. Roughly 80 percent of institutions said they allow students to connect an unlimited number of devices (in addition to desktop or laptop computers) to the residential network. Tablets such as iPads were the biggest users of computer bandwidth, followed by desktop and laptop computers, and video systems such as Slingbox and Roku players).

This growing demand for network bandwidth appears to be straining institutional IT budgets, as 44 percent of all institutions reported no change in the proportion of their operating budgets devoted to providing ResNet services, but 37 percent said providing such network support is a "primary concern" (compared with 23 percent in 2011). Institutions have either instituted or considered instituting a number of options for dealing with rising costs. Roughly 36 percent have increased or added new student/user fees, while 22 percent have outsources some or all of their ResNet services, and 16 percent have reduced total available bandwidth on their networks. Despite taking these actions, it appears that continued growth in demand for ResNet services may be taxing the resources of a number of institutions. More than 4 in 10 of the respondents said that their campuses do not yet have a plan for meeting increases in ResNet usage during the years ahead.

Copies of the 2013 ACUTA/NACUBO State of ResNet Report are available for no charge from the ACUTA Web site.


Ken Redd
Director, Research and Policy Analysis