Net filter to prioritize campus Internet usage

Travis Perry

From rooms to privacy, most people have learned to share things by now, but this rule has not always translated into bandwidth usage. However, Washburn Information and Systems Services is looking to keep things even.

With the Net Enforcer in place for nearly four weeks, Michael Gunter, director of ISS, said bandwidth complaints have dropped significantly, and overall usage has improved.

Gunter said that the group of students assigned to address the issue along with him took an objective look at network traffic to see where the problems were. Bogged down primarily by peer-to-peer sharing through clients such as Limewire and Bittorrent, Gunter said the group was able to create a set of protocols for the Net Enforcer to help it regulate traffic. Aimed at the hours between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., when net traffic is at its peak, Web page and e-mail traffic were given top priority. A major point Gunter wanted to get across to students is that this new network device is not targeted at stopping any type of network traffic.

“Some of the peer-to-peer protocols we put at the end of the queue, so if there’s time to service those during the day, it will take care of itself,” said Gunter. “We’re not trying to stop anything. We’re just trying to make the most efficient use of the bandwidth that we have.”

While prioritization of traffic is an important factor in streamlining Washburn’s network, an issue of concern to some was how online and network gaming would be affected. Gunter said the amount of data being transferred from games was actually very small and made up a small portion of the total bandwidth. This is because the only data sent for games is usually location coordinates, which are negligible in size.

“You could play for an hour and not send more than a megabit of data,” said Gunter.

Gunter emphasized again that the Net Enforcer is aimed at prioritizing and organizing traffic, not catching those who download copyrighted materials. ISS does not actively hunt for peer-to-peer sharing users unless a complaint is made, said Gunter.

In addition to creating rules for the network filter, the group of students, comprised of Daniel Usera, Josh Maples, David Reed and Mike Tennyson, plan to create an acceptable use policy over bandwidth usage. It is planned to be put before the Washburn Student Government Association in late April.