Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Campus Internet Access: Shall We Seek Another Way?

Over the past 5 or 6 years I've been to a lot of different campuses scattered around the country. I can't think of one that I've been to recently that was not struggling with bandwidth issues. Students, faculty and staff on college campuses are like sponges when it comes to bandwidth - we soak up as much as the provider can supply.

Accessing bandwidth hungry applications during peak usage times can be very frustrating - especially if that application is part of a lecture or exam. In addition to the cost of bandwidth, colleges and universities are also responsible for installation, 24/7 maintenance and upgrading of the network infrastructure.

Perhaps it's time to consider another way. I've written in the past about successful public/private partnerships and today came across an interesting press release from AT&T. Here's a piece from that press release:

The University of Houston and AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) today announced the nation's first planned deployment of AT&T U-verseSM services into student housing on a college campus. The cutting-edge TV and high speed Internet services will be included in every room of a 547,000-square-foot residence hall under construction for graduate and professional students.

These kinds of relationships make a lot of sense to me - a public university contracting with a private company to provide services. AT&T will be responsible for installing, maintaining and upgrading their network while the University of Houston will be responsible for teaching and student learning. I would think it also passes on a lot of BitTorrent/copyright liability from the University of Houston to AT&T...... it makes sense for both the university and AT&T to go this way for a number of reasons.

Also, from AT&T's perspective, it gets their products out there in students hands .... an impressed and satisfied student is a future satisfied residential/business/wireless customer.
Here's more from the press release:

"We are delighted that University of Houston students will be able to enjoy the same advanced AT&T U-verse services as an ever-expanding number of consumers across the Houston area," said Ed Cholerton, AT&T vice president and general manager for the Houston area. "We share the university's commitment to the best communications and entertainment technology."

What will be next? I'm figuring on a wireless access option for students via an AT&T wireless network at the University of Houston.

It will be interesting to see how many other academic institutions and providers move in this direction.

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