This year will be etched in the history of NITR, titled “the year of oppression”. With the institute introducing series of policies to curb the little freedom that the students of NITR get to savour; the most recent one being 300MB of internet usage each day.
Internet is one of the few things that keeps the students of the institute sane. Team MM caught up with Prof. S.K. Patra to clear the air regarding the Internet Usage limit.
MM: What is the reason behind introducing this 300MB restriction rule?
SK: I got lot of complaints from the students of GD Birla hall that they are unable to access the internet, not even able to open google pages, the primary reason is that the bandwidth is choked and they are using wireless connection. I made a survey of the downloads, and it was observed that more than 150 people had downloaded more than 500MB of data. On one side we have students facing problem to open web pages, whereas on the other end we have students downloading 1 gigabyte of data. These two cases don’t go hand in hand, if the network is slow, we can’t download so much data, if you can download so much data then the network cannot be slow. We have a limited bandwidth that is equally shared among all the students. My hunch was that some people use tools to squeeze the bandwidth and use a sustained bandwidth for their use. 300MB of download data is not a small amount, but if you are trying to download a software or video or a movie it’s not enough.
MM: Why has this policy been implemented now and not before?
SK: With time, number of students have been constantly increasing in the college. Internet is such a resource no matter how much you provide, it won’t be enough. The demand for internet is high. The idea for putting restriction was more equitable distribution of resources. The download speed previously was 2 megabits, now it has been reduced to 1 megabits.
MM: Our institute has a network resource of 150mbps, which is divided amongst all the students. At peak hours, when there are around 2000 users, the download speed for each person is around 75kbps, which is a horribly slow connection. This shows that the limited internet resource is not able to cater the increasing strength; isn’t there a need to increase our internet resources?
SK: The throttle is 1mbps, if there are 2000 users at peak time and if everyone tries to download at 1mbps, we will need a bandwidth of 2GBps. We have a 1GBps connection connected to the National Network Knowledge (NKN). The NKN has an outside connection of 150Mbps. If you download anything from our college site or IIT sites it doesn’t go in to this 150Mbps connection, as all IIT’s and 800 universities across the country come under the NKN system. But if you download some software from a US site or US university it goes into this 150Mbps bandwidth.
MM: In most cases, a 300MB restriction is not a viable solution to the problem. Windows update, antivirus update, mobile updates and various other software updates tend to use up most of it and students is left with nothing, what is your opinion on this?
SK: Everyday day you don’t get a windows update. Yeah, windows update can be around 250MB sometimes. Antivirus updates won’t be a big size. And regarding android phones you don’t update patches every day. You might have around 100MB updates per week, not more than that. Every person has their own person requirement, now the point is you have limited resource, and how you divide the resources equitably with some amount of weightage to the requirement. The traffic that goes out from the institute is very high.
MM: Sir, with increasing number of students there is a need to upgrade our resources to meet the requirements instead of putting limitation on them?
SK: You see resources can be bought, but then there is cost to everything. Since there is resource crunch, we need to implement some policy to ensure equitable distribution of resources. If there is a specific requirement for somebody on particular day, things can be worked out. It’s not that the bandwidth connection is not increased, but it has not been substantially increased after getting the MKS connection. Discussions are going on with the Director, some solution will be worked out soon. Limit might not be there but there will restriction on amount of free data the students can download, after that charges will apply.
MM: Will this 300MB restriction be discussed with student’s representatives? Each and every student has expressed displeasure over this limit.
SK: I don’t know if this this will be done. It is based on statistics. We did not randomly arrive at 300MB. The idea was one night you get 600MB, and then you have to wait till the next night for accessing night, this will prevent from using 600MB download continuously every night. The idea is to stop download of movies and stuff like that.
MM: Is the career of engineering confined only to studies?
SK: That’s not the point. The point is the resources are limited, if we provide unlimited resources, it is a burden on the institute’s finances. Typically, 1mbps costs 25,000 per annum. BSNL link is government funded. Apart from that anything we buy is 25,000 per mbps.
MM: Why has cost become a problem now when the internet charges have exponentially decreased?
SK: The cost is reducing, the bandwidth is increasing, but demand for bandwidth and increase in bandwidth are not at the same pace. Individually, the user downloads are increasing because the applications are using more bandwidth. The internet statistics for user have changed today. Its matter of demand and supply.
MM: The strength of Wi-Fi signal is always a concern for users.
SK: There are two types: these equipment are n-standard, if we increase the power the speed goes down. They can go up to 400mbps data speed. It is the sum of uplink and downlink. The number of routers are very less in comparison to the requirement.
MM: On a final note, what do you want to announce to the students of NITR?
SK: Bandwidth will be enhanced certainly, and hardware will be upgraded. For every hostel we can make internet committee, or a help group to assist other students. “The 300MB restriction would be removed”, but that might not be free.