It seems like every day that some new technology or new app is being introduced to the world, more specifically in this blog, to students. From games and smartphones to tablets and wearables our school wireless networks are constantly trying to keep up with the onslaught of new devices and apps.
Today’s tech savvy students are always right on the pulse of technology, for a lot of students it drives their whole worlds, so it’s no wonder when something comes out (or at times before it officially comes out) they’re bringing them onto your school’s wireless network.
However, sometimes new things come along that you just know are going to make a bigger splash than usual and have a much bigger impact on your wireless network than your possibly ready for.
Recently that “something” has arrived. I’m of course referring to the newly released music streaming service “Tidal”.
It’s an amazing product and is no doubt going to be a big hit among current and future students.
The question is how will it affect your school’s Wi-Fi performance?
Say goodbye to your bandwidth
Music streaming is not a new service and is certainly not new to your campus wireless network. Companies like Spotify, iTunes and Pandora have been serving music to your students for years. So, what’s all the fuss about the newly released Tidal?
The other above mentioned streaming services have high-fidelity maxing out at 320 kbps (kilobytes per second) which according to gadget blog Tools and Toys eats up about 140 MB of data or bandwidth per hour of streaming.
What am I alluding to you’re probably asking.
Bandwidth, and a lot of it. You see, Tidal offers streaming at up to 1,411 kbps; this is lossless quality, which has never been done before with music streaming. Although audiophiles are sure going to love this the IT department on campus probably won’t. At that level of quality we’re talking serious bandwidth requirements, up to 500 MB per hour.
In order to not eat up their mobile data usage or minutes the way around this is to connect to Wi-Fi.
A recent study by researchers at Baylor University found that college students spend an average of 8-10 hours every day on their smartphones, with about 26.9 minutes of that used listening to music. At roughly a half an hour each day, the average student will be using 250 MB of bandwidth if they are using Tidal on the highest quality, and this is only on their smartphones.
The point I’m making here is that as higher and higher quality technology and applications are developed and ultimately used by your students your wireless network has to be ready to adjust with them.
In Tidal’s case you need to always make sure you have the adequate bandwidth needed to run your mission critical systems.
A solution to this is having proper layer 7 visibility or real-time application monitoring. In other words you can see what’s going on or flowing through your wireless network. For example, who is streaming Netflix all day or who is on social media, in this case who is logged in and streaming Tidal.
Next comes having bandwidth management which is exactly what it sounds like. Once you have the ability to see who and what is on your campus wifi network you can create performance policies or “traffic shaping” as we call it.
For example, you could create a traffic shaping policy for music streaming that said between the hours of 9am and 6pm the campus wireless network will allow music streaming to consume up to 10% of the total bandwidth.
However, this isn’t a plug and play option rather a system of different tools and it takes the right wireless network design and implementation for it to be effective.
Suggested Reading - "WAN Optimization: What is is and what are the benefits?"
The Big Picture
It’s no secret that Wi-Fi quality at your campus can directly impact student enrollment and student/faculty satisfaction. Ultimately it’s about creating a balance between keeping your mission critical applications running smoothly, your end users productive and content and everything completely secure.
Suggested Reading - "How to Plan for Mobility Without Sacrificing Your WLAN's Security"
Tidal is just the latest music streaming application to be released and while it’s the first to offer this level of quality, it’s only a matter of time until iTunes or other music providers follow suit.
Remember, mobility is about constant preparedness or always planning for what lies ahead.
At SecurEdge we have helped countless numbers of Colleges and Universities on their way to secure mobility. If you would like an analysis of your current campus wireless network or just have some questions, we’d love to see how we can help, simply contact us here.