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Purdue University bans Wi-Fi access to streaming sites like Netflix following teacher complaints

Published Mar 19th, 2019 10:30PM EDT

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Back in the day, before the advent of the modern-day smartphone, the only way to waste time in class was to trade notes with friends, doodle some crude drawings on your notebook, or maybe play a few rudimentary video games on your graphing calculator. Flash forward to 2019 and the learning environment is markedly different. These days, college students are increasingly using their school’s Wi-Fi network to access streaming content from the likes of sites like Netflix and Hulu. In turn, bandwidth can sometimes take a discernible hit. Though universities are well equipped to handle an insane amount of traffic, things change quite a bit when you’re talking about thousands of students streaming HD content at the same time.

In light of that, one high-profile university recently embarked on a somewhat controversial measures to preserve their precious bandwidth. Highlighting the issue, the Chicago Tribune reports that Purdue University recently blocked students from using streaming services at academic buildings on campus. According to the report, Purdue opted for this course of action after hearing complaints from teachers regarding academic applications not running smoothly during class.

While it’s common for offices and other places of employment to ban access to certain websites– all in the name of bandwidth and productivity — it’s not common to see this type of content ban on college campuses.

There’s a finite amount of bandwidth available,” said Mark Sonstein, the university’s executive director of information technology infrastructure. “If you have people who are streaming a movie, then they are consuming all of the available bandwidth.”

The report adds that Purdue administrators, upon investigating the bandwidth issue, discovered that only 4% of traffic in academic buildings was academic in nature.

Interestingly enough, the Tribune highlights that the University of Chicago has banned Wi-Fi in the classroom since 2008. Hardly a bandwidth issue, the University of Chicago’s opposition to Wi-Fi in classroom settings stems from a desire to keep students engaged and focused on learning. Truth be told, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given the prestigious university’s reputation as a place where fun goes to die.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.