The Oklahoma Heritage Association and Gaylord-Pickens Museum, where I now work as the director of technology and education outreach, is still on a single T-1 line for Internet connectivity. We have solicited bids to bring fiber optic cable to our building and increase our total bandwidth to the commodity Internet to at least 5 MB. A T-1 line provides just 1.5 MB of bandwidth. Although I am using the abbreviation MB for bandwidth, to be more precise I actually should use the abbreviation Mbps, for “megabits per second.” As we’ve added more staff and Internet utilization has increased, we’ve come to the point where a T-1 line is no longer sufficient for our needs. The increased utilization of multimedia on the web has certainly also played a role in this evolution. Here is some graphical proof of our need for additional bandwidth.
This first graph from the free Internet Frog Speed Test website shows download and upload (downstream and upstream) Internet speeds for our network this morning from the vantage point of my Macbook Pro laptop‘s WiFi connection. A download speed of 208 kbps and an upload speed of 21 kbps is laughably slow for today’s Internet website demands. The T-1 line’s full theoretical downstream and upstream capacity (symmetrical capacity because they should be equal) is 1.544 Mbit/s, or 1544 kbps. Doing some simple division, we can see that the downstream bandwidth available to me on my laptop this morning (208 divided by 1544) is just 13% of the T-1 line’s total capacity, and my upstream bandwidth available (21 divided by 1544) is just 1.3% of total capacity. Clearly we need more bandwidth! I can FEEL it when I’m online.
Since my experiences “getting burned” not having a provided Internet connection during my spotlight session at the OTA conference in February 2008 in our downtown Cox Convention Center, I’ve paid (out of my own family’s budget) for an AT&T 3G wireless data card to connect my laptop to the Internet. This has permitted me to access my curriculum materials for school workshops in districts which block all wiki sites, and also permitted me to access the Internet in locations where public access was not available or not working. It also provided the opportunity to do some live webcasts from the Smithsonian air and space museums in Washington D.C. this past March.
Increasingly in late morning and the afternoons at work now, I am finding it much more efficient to use my 3G data card to access the web rather than using our organizational, shared T-1 line. This second bandwidth graph shows that my 3G connection is providing me today (at our museum) with a full 1.5 MB of bandwidth downstream and just over 700 kbps of upstream bandwidth. This makes a HUGE difference when “working the web.”
I’m hopeful that by January of 2009 we’ll be able to bring a fiber optic connection to our building and increase our shared bandwidth to at least 5 MB. Our network management company has installed some bandwidth monitoring software in the past two months and I have not been able to see the statistics it’s collected yet, but based on my own informal surveys (like the one I’ve described in this post) it’s clear we’ve reached the capacity of our current Internet pipe. It is very interesting to be on “the other side” of negotiations over organizational bandwidth pricing now that I’ve joined the OHA, and I still find it hard to believe consumers are able to pay so little (comparatively speaking) for bandwidth in residential homes compared to organizations who have to fork out thousands of dollars per month for much LESS bandwidth. The uptime guarantees for business Internet connections are certainly different than they are for residential connections, but the bandwidth and pricing differences are so big that I suspect they are not justified. The same market forces which have reduced prices for residential high speed Internet access have not been nearly as powerful in lowering average organizational/business bandwidth prices in many areas, certainly not in the Oklahoma City area where I live and work most of the time. I’ve screensnapped (mostly with Skitch) over 70 bandwidth graphs from different locations over the past few years, and these are all available on my Flickr site when you search for the tag “bandwidth.”
Once we have a fiber optic connection to the Internet at our building, we’ll be able to incrementally increase our bandwidth all the way up to 100 MB if we want to, just with a phone call to our provider/ISP. I am eagerly looking forward to the day when our shared, organizational bandwidth will exceed the personal bandwidth I’m able to access with my Sierra Wireless Internet data card on my laptop. Until then, however, I’m quite thankful that I have another option for accessing the web faster from my laptop. I just wish the monthly price for this service was less!
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On this day..
- YouTube Tips and Tricks (September 2020) – 2020
- An Invitation for You: Fall 2016 School Digital Citizenship Survey – 2016
- Seeking Funding for an Oklahoma School NCLB Left Behind – 2013
- Adding Audio to a WordPress Sound Blog – 2011
- Using Social Networking Tools to Increase Discussion in the Classroom by Karin Perry – 2010
- Did You Know 4.0 – The Mobile Revolution is Here – 2009
- Chinese Parental Expectations, Creativity, and Chinese Film Recommendations – 2009
- EverNote iPhone Voice Memos – 2008
- Content filtering in Communist China versus an Oklahoma school – 2007
- Great web 2.0 tools for students – 2006