Kansas University is working with an outside company that provides Internet service to its student housing to boost its basic-tier Internet speeds after student complaints.
KU switched this semester from providing its own in-house Internet service for university housing, ResNet, to an outside contractor, Apogee, a company based in Austin, Texas, that provides Internet services to a variety of college campuses across the country.
As part of the contract, Apogee provides Internet services to KU residence halls, scholarship halls and on-campus apartments. It does not receive money from KU, and relies on fees from student users to pay for the service.
With KU’s old system, students paid $98 per semester for Internet access, but didn’t have any restrictions on bandwidth, which could be variable depending on who else was trying to access the system, said Diana Robertson, KU’s director of student housing.
“They essentially had one large pipe of bandwidth going out” to everyone who was using the service, she said. The first ones who grabbed the bandwidth got it.
Under the new system, Apogee offers three tiers of service. The basic tier costs the same as the old ResNet, $98 per semester. Two other tiers of service cost $138 and $158 per semester. The upper tiers provide 10 megabits per second and 15 megabits per second of bandwidth. It’s the basic level of service, however, that’s been the issue for some students. Apogee had been offering one and two megabits per second at its lowest tier of service, but university officials are in discussions with the company to examine adjusting those levels.
“That’s an ongoing conversation,” Robertson said. “The key is to establish that appropriate baseline for that service.”
Mitchell Cota, a freshman from Overland Park, said he subscribed to the basic level of service this semester, but he usually opts to use his cellphone as a mobile hotspot for better Internet service so he doesn’t have to use the slower Apogee service.
“If I did, I’d be sitting there for a half-hour to watch a YouTube video,” said Cota, who lives in Ellsworth Hall. He said he planned on dropping the service from Apogee in the future.
He’s not the only one who’s complained.
Both KU and Apogee say they’ve heard complaints about the basic levels of service, and KU usually directs students to a 24-hour customer service line from Apogee.
KU decided to go with an outside contractor because ResNet’s infrastructure was essentially unchanged from its inception and needed to be improved, said Jack Martin, a KU spokesman. As part of the contract, Apogee will provide infrastructure improvements that would have needed to be paid by KU internally. Neither KU nor Apogee provided a specific dollar figure for the planned improvements, which include a significant upgrade to the infrastructure in Stouffer Place apartments and wireless capability in the residence halls. An Apogee official said the total cost for the improvements would be “in the millions of dollars.”
Apogee, which has a contract to provide Internet service through 2018, was one of two bidders for the service, said Barry Swanson, KU’s interim associate vice provost for operations, who was serving as the university’s director of purchasing when the contract was up for bid. Robertson said Apogee was the most responsive bidder to KU’s proposal.
This story has been updated to reflect the following correction: A story Friday incorrectly expressed the rate of speed of bandwidth connections in Kansas University student housing. The rates of speed should have been expressed in megabits per second.