What students want: Elauwit strives to provide bandwidth they can live with
There is probably no one demographic that is more technology dependent than today's youth. From streaming movies on Netflix to web gaming, today's kids are online...all the time. Not only that, but these new uses for the Web are eating up an amount of bandwith that used to be more than acceptable. For our end users, Internet usage certainly has a "want" aspect to it but also a "need." So, not being able to log on to research a term paper or email a professor is a big problem. Student Housing Business Magazine covered this topic in their recent article More Megabits = Higher Occupancy. They related the absolute need to be able to surf the Internet (quickly) to the rise and fall of a property's occupancy rate. These days, the two really do go hand in hand.
What followed the initial introduction of live streaming video products a few years ago was a rush by student housing operators to live up to a paramount obligation. If students' iPads and laptops weren't online consistently and quickly, they moved out, and were quick to tell friends — via social media, in some cases — not to lease at certain properties where connectivity was poor. Today, operators know that Internet is as important as electricity and running water, perhaps even more so.
But, as our guys know, it's not as easy as it sounds. In the remainder of the SHB article, they discuss the various difficulties student housing companies have in providing enough bandwidth to the demanding students. Scott Casey, senior vice president and chief technology officer with EdR, specifically mentions Elauwit and our ongoing desire to deal with today's problems while also looking at the bottom line.
"There are some markets where bandwidth is dirt cheap, then there are others that are 20 to 30 percent higher than what it would normally cost. We're working closely with Elauwit Networks to research new solutions for bandwidth delivery and to obtain optimal pricing," Casey says.
And, he's right. Elauwit consistently looks toward the future when dealing with the present. In our business, there's no need to just fix today's problem, because when tomorrow comes, so will more problems. Casey, for example, predicts a one gigabit pipe to their student housing properites in the future.
"It's unprecedented now, but it's something that will be fairly common in the near future," said Casey.
And, while there doesn't seem to be a cap to the amount of bandwidth a group of students can and will use, Taylor Jones, Elauwit Networks' president and chief technology officer, says it's more about knowing what they need.
"Streaming video is and will continue to be a major bandwidth issue," Jones says. "A lot of classes are going to be video streaming. Many students today don't even have to go to class anymore. They can log onto Blackboard or watch their classes online. The network has to be optimized for that. If we can work closely with the universities to get their network through fewer hops, that makes it a better experience for the end-user. The big question is, how do we get more access to the resources students want?"
And, that's where we are today. We're looking, researching and developing new and better ways for the students to get what they need while in college. Because, as technology dependence grows for every generation, what students need and what they want won't be very different.