April 25, 2016 10:00 ET

Higher Education ResNet & Wi-Fi, You've Come a Long Way

Findings Show Comprehensive Wi-Fi Doubling; Schools Optimizing Networks for Effectiveness

SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwired - Apr 25, 2016) - ACUTA 45th Annual Conference -- Robust Wi-Fi coverage on college campuses has nearly doubled since 2013, with more than 83 percent of schools now offering nearly ubiquitous wireless access, finds the ACUTA/ACUHO-I 2016 State of ResNet Report. This upsurge shows a desire for higher education institutions to meet student demand through a high-quality residential network as budgets become more and more constrained.

The report, published by The Association for College and University Technology Advancement (ACUTA) and the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International (ACUHO-I), is the fifth installment of a study to measure the pulse of ResNet practices and policies in higher education. A total of 406 respondents representing 365 institutions participated in the 2016 survey, a 59 percent increase in completion rates since the first study.

Key insights from the 2016 ACUTA /ACUHO-I State of ResNet Report include:

  • Campuses' #1 Priority - Meeting Wi-Fi and Bandwidth Demands: What used to be BYOD has now evolved into BYOE or "Bring Your Own Everything." With mobile device use on the rise at an alarming rate, schools are feeling the pressure to design a campus Wi-Fi experience that supports students' needs and expectations. And the foremost expectation is to have lightning fast Internet access everywhere on campus. Along with strong growth in robust Wi-Fi coverage, bandwidth also saw a big leap, with nearly two-thirds of campuses dedicating one gigabyte per second (Gbps) or more to the ResNet this year, a more than two-fold increase from 2012. Additionally, 29 percent of schools are committing five Gbps or more to the ResNet.

  • Wireless Costs Going Up, Funding Going Down: While the majority of schools (62%) expect wireless costs to increase in the next two years, there was a seven percent drop in schools that increased ResNet funding. Those who increased ResNet funding went from 54 percent in 2015 down to 47 percent in 2016.

  • CFOs' Interest in ResNet is Up: More CFOs are realizing the importance of technology's contribution to the success of their schools and that ResNet is no longer just an IT issue, but a strategic one. Seventy-three percent of Business Officers believe a high-performing (coverage and capacity) ResNet is very important in attracting and retaining on-campus students.

  • Coping with Rising ResNet Costs: To address the rising costs of ResNet, a large proportion of schools are combining network services with other campus IT services (47.8 percent) and/or shaping bandwidth (41.6 percent). Some schools (9 percent) have increased or added new student or user fees, although 29.9 percent are considering it. Another 29.2 percent are considering all three actions.

  • More Schools Consider Outsourcing to Trim Costs: Outsourcing as a way to trim ResNet costs doubled from 2013 to 2016. Today, 44 percent of schools are outsourcing or considering outsourcing some or all ResNet services.

  • ResNet Budgets Range: There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to ResNet budgets, which range from less than $750K a year (44 percent) to more than $2.5M per year (22.5 percent). The majority of schools with annual budgets of more than $2.5 million are small to medium sized, private institutions.

  • IPTV on the Rise: A new trend on the horizon showing up in this year's study sees schools starting to transition from traditional cable TV in favor of IPTV to meet growing demand for anytime access to entertainment programming on a multitude of devices. While nine percent of colleges and universities have made the transition from traditional cable television to IPTV, IP video and similar solutions, three out of four schools are giving it some or much consideration.

  • 24/7 Support Still Scarce: Better support is still needed by the majority of schools. 24/7 support lags far behind with only 13.6 percent of schools providing such comprehensive support. For the remaining 76 percent, the only 24/7 support available are online resources such as wikis or FAQs.

"Five years ago, we started the State of the ResNet study to map the peaks and valleys of a little-understood area of the higher ed digital landscape. Since then, the ResNet has garnered a seat at the table as institutions chart their strategic paths, leveraging it for growth. We look forward to many more years of watching, learning and studying how ResNet affects competitiveness, retention and student satisfaction," said Dee Childs, chair of the ACUTA Environmental Scanning Committee and Chief Information Officer at the University of Alabama-Huntsville.

ACUHO-I Executive Director and CEO, Mary DeNiro adds, "The IT requirements of both student residents and campus housing staff continue to grow each year, which makes the State of the ResNet study an invaluable tool for campuses. The information in this report will allow institutions to benchmark themselves against what services other campuses provide. That will help them reach their goal of providing an exemplary housing experience."

The full report, available free at, provides further trends and insights into higher-education's ResNet structures, present and future network infrastructure issues, and staffing service and support.

About the 2016 State of ResNet Report
Two leading professional organizations (ACUTA and ACUHO-I) representing college and university Business, IT and Housing Officers have joined forces to conduct the fifth annual study of ResNet practices. ResNets provide wired Internet, Wi-Fi, cable TV services and more to students living in residence halls. The survey was conducted from December 2015 through January 2016. A combined total of 406 respondents representing 361 unique colleges and universities completed the survey, compared to 412 in 2014 and 251 in 2013. Of the 406 total responses, 211 respondents indicated their primary job was related to IT, 119 to Business and 76 to Housing.

ACUTA is an international nonprofit educational association serving colleges and universities. Its core purpose is to advance the capabilities of higher-education communications and collaboration technology leaders. ACUTA represents more than 3,000 individuals at almost 600 institutions of higher education, with members ranging from small schools and community colleges to the very largest U.S. institutions. ACUTA's corporate affiliate members represent all categories of communications technology vendors serving the college/university market.

The Association of College and University Housing Officers - International (ACUHO-I) has more than 990 member institutions located around the world, all committed to creating positive residential experiences for their students. We support and promote these members in the pursuit of their goals through education, avocation and invaluable network connections.

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