June 2007

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2007.

During the vacation period (starting on Monday 25th June) we are increasing the peak-time usage 10GB per week as the network is less busy. We may review these limits throughout the vacation period.

Off-peak periods remain unlimited.

Peak-time is 6pm to 12 midnight and off-peak time is 12 midnight to 6pm

Enjoy 😉

The IPTV service seems to have gone off air. We’re looking into it, initial investigation seems to suggest it might be a problem with the supplier. Mark is currently on the phone trying to get hold of their technical bods. We’ll update this as and when we have more info.

Update – 17:00: We’ve just had an email from the guys at freewire, it looks like the problem is wider than just Bristol, it’s effecting other universities as well – but they’re working on it.

Please be informed the ‘Freewire’ Infrastructure team are investigating the current network problem and are working with ‘JANET Operations’ to return the TV channels as soon as possible.Sorry for the interruption in service, we will keep you updated.Best regards

Freewire Support

More info as we get it. (Although you’ll probably notice it’s working before we do!)

If you’ve tried Freewire TV you’ll know it’s fixed 😉

I’ve just noticed that one of our servers fell over at 7am this morning. I’m not in Bristol so I can’t go in and switch it back on, and unless one of the other permanent staff happens to be in the area – the following services will be unavailable until Monday morning.

  • In room registration process. New users will not be able to register their connections.
  • Manage My ResNet – You won’t be able to get to this at all, so you won’t be able to see your bandwidth usage (although we’re still counting it!)
  • ResNet software archive (http://download.resnet.bris.ac.uk/pub) will be unavailable
  • The short version of the URL for the ResNet website (http://www.resnet.bristol.ac.uk) won’t work, although the long form will (http://www.bris.ac.uk/is/computing/advice/homeusers/resnet/)
  • There may be a handful of other services that don’t work as expected, which I’ve forgotten. But it’s Saturday morning and I haven’t had breakfast yet.

All existing ResNet connections should continue to function as normal.

Update: I have just kicked the box back into life – it is back up and all services are running as expected – sorry for any inconvenience caused. Mark.

We have just been informed that Unite House have scheduled work on their power supply today. Therefore Unite House will have no network connectivity for the duration of this work.

I have been told the work is predicted to last from 10am to 3pm.

This is the final newsletter of the academic year sent to all ResNet subscribers. You can also read this on the web at www.bristolresnet.net

Win a PlayStation Portable

The ResNet survey is your opportunity to say what you think about ResNet over the last year and give us ideas for improvements. Everyone completing the survey also enters the prize draw – top prize is a PlayStation Portable, and there are also 8 lots of £10 print credits to win.

Please go to http://www.survey.bris.ac.uk/is/resnet07 – thanks!

ResNet over the summer vacation

Many people will be moving out of their rooms at the end of June. If you are staying in residence and haven’t already paid for the summer vacation period you will need to do so. You can check your current subscription by going to http://manage.resnet.bris.ac.uk For more about ResNet over the summer please see http://www.bristol.ac.uk/slink/93rq

Internet access in private accommodation

If you are moving out into private student accommodation you may want to arrange your own broadband Internet access (ResNet is only available in university residences). We have a guide to help you choose which might help: see http://www.bristol.ac.uk/slink/gjtg

Best wishes,

the ResNet team.

Last term over 1900 students responded to the Student IT survey. The results and comments from this have been extremely useful. The priorities identified during the survey are being used to help draw up the University IT strategy for the next few years.

We held a random prize draw to award the prizes for completed surveys and have now contacted all the winners. Prizes available were one iPod video, two iPod shuffles, and 12 lots of £15 printer credits.

You can see pictures of the prizes and prize winners or a report of the survey results on the IT Strategy site.
Thank you to everyone who took part in the survey, and congratulations to the winners.

 We’ve written a ‘ResNet review of the year’ for ResNet subscribers – a summary of what’s happened on ResNet over the last twelve months. Before finalising the report, here is a draft version. If you have any comments please let us know on the blog below, or email the ResNet help desk.

Network capacity & performance

We’ve greatly increased the speeds available to ResNet subscribers this year. The total ResNet offsite link now runs at 300Mbit/sec in, 100Mbit/sec out.

Traffic levels on ResNet have shot up hugely. Traffic increases each year, but the increase this time was more than we’ve ever seen before. We think this is due in particular to the growing popularity of video on the Internet – egYouTube & downloads.

Peer to peer technologies are increasingly common – e.g. Channel 4’s 4oD video download service uses peer to peer. This means that while you are downloading a file, other Internet users are also uploading it from your computer. It saves the provider bandwidth (network capacity) but puts the strain on our network instead.

At the same time that traffic levels are going up we’ve been trying to improve the performance of the network. If you use Skype (45% of Bristol students do), webcams, gaming, or anything else which works in real time then performance is important. Your network traffic must get there quickly and smoothly, or your conversations and video will break up.

To help improve this we introduced a new fair usage policy for ResNet, which set limits on the amount of traffic each subscriber could use during peak times. Getting this right was tricky, as we had to balance the demands of one group of subscribers against another – we were never going to be able to make everybody happy. However we’ve made some changes in response to the feedback we got and we think the end result has worked out pretty well.

Previously the network was congested during the evening, when we hit our traffic limit. Now we don’t hit the limit and applications run more smoothly. Heavy downloaders can still use 5 GB of traffic a week in the evenings, and far more during the day.

Service reliability

The ResNet network has generally been very reliable (so far!) this year.

Reliability is more than just the network – the worst problem we had this year was the weekend after Freshers week, when database problems over the weekend delayed or prevented many people from registering. We’ve taken some steps to make our database queries more efficient and reduce load on the database. Thanks to the database team for help with this.

Behind the scenes over many years we’ve been improving the resilience of the network – removing the oldest and least reliable equipment and introducing redundant routes to many locations. This will continue over the summer with another round of upgrades, particularly to residences in the Stoke Bishop and the Frogmore Street areas.

We remain most vulnerable to problems at weekends – in common with most IT facilities at the University we have no formal out of hours staff cover for ResNet. If problems occur out of hours sometimes they are dealt with by staff if they can, but this isn’t guaranteed. Introducing formal out of hours cover would involve employing additional staff – this would be expensive and so the ResNet subscription fee would have to be raised. Instead our strategy is to implement backup systems with automatic failover in case of problems. We think that offers better value for money.

Cost and take-up of ResNet

This year 4500 people subscribed to ResNet (97% of people living in University accommodation). The ResNet fee this year remained at 55 pounds for three terms. There was an increase in the fee for people here over the summer vacation – from £15 to £20.

The ResNet subscription fee funds all the direct costs of the service – the network infrastructure and equipment, and the salaries of the full-time permanent and part-time student staff who run it. We try to keep the fee as low as possible.

We have been able to keep the fee at £55 for many years. We were able to do this as the number of people choosing to subscribe to ResNet increased, so we sold more subscriptions. Now that almost 100% of students in residence have ResNet our income won’t grow, but the costs will keep on rising. We will have to increase the subscription fee gradually over the next few years. However we still believe ResNet offers excellent value for money compared with commercial broadband providers, and will continue to do so.

TV over ResNet and other entertainment services

At Bristol we have always recognised that ResNet provides an Internet connection to your home, and that it is valid to use ResNet for both educational and personal use. We have always tried to provide access not block it.

We’d like ResNet to offer a package of

  • Access to educational resources on the University network,
  • Fast access to the whole Internet,
  • Entertainment and communications services such as TV and voice-over-Internet (either providing these ourselves or simply letting students access services already available on the Internet).

We want to offer an attractive service that will help students choose Bristol as their university.

As fast broadband has become popular, social and entertainment usage of the Internet has taken off. Most Bristol students organise their social lives with Facebook and MSN. Many people in halls don’t watch TV, but they might watch video clips on Youtube or download movies instead.

One major development this year has been the trial of Freewire TV over ResNet. This provides 15 digital TV channels viewable on your computer. There is no charge to use it, but you must have your own TV licence. Initially the service appears very welcome – but how many people want live TV now if they can get downloads on demand instead?

Other developments this year

  • The ResNet blog www.bristolresnet.net, to keep subscribers in touch with what we are doing, and get opinions on proposals and changes we make.
  • Support for Windows Vista on ResNet
  • View your ResNet usage on the Manage My ResNet system
  • ResNet chat instant messaging and chatroom system – not a big success as nobody used it! We’ve learnt something from it however
  • Removed the requirement to use the University webcaches -this means many services previously blocked such as iTunes Music Store now work.
  • Relaunched the Notebooks for Students scheme – advice and discounted laptops for students to purchase.
  • Ring the ResNet help desk and find it engaged? You can send us a text instead, and we’ll ring you back when we are free.

Update 2007-06-19: Comments are now closed as there have been no genuine comments submitted recently, only spam. If you want to comment on this article, please contact the ResNet Helpdesk.