April 07, 2014 11:15 ET

Third Annual ResNet Study: Colleges Explore Ways to Cope With Voracious Bandwidth Appetite While Facing Conflicting Priorities

2014 Study Reveals Increasing "Uncapped" Bandwidth Access, Rising Outsourcing Amid Surging Demand; Need for More Planning, Better Communication, Tighter Security and More

LEXINGTON, KY and WASHINGTON, DC and COLUMBUS, OH--(Marketwired - Apr 7, 2014) - The Third Annual State of ResNet Report reveals that with the explosion of wireless connected devices and surging demands for "anytime, anywhere" connectivity, campuses nationwide are exploring ways to cope -- all while trying to resolve conflicting priorities. The need for more planning, better communication and tighter security are being offset by processes and resources that have not kept pace, according to the report.

The 2014 study is published by The Association for Information Technology Professionals in Higher Education (ACUTA), The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) and the Association of College and University Housing Officers - International (ACUHO-I). This ACUTA/NACUBO/ACUHO-I Report is the third installment of a five-year study to measure the pulse in ResNet practices and policies in higher education. A total of 509 surveys were completed, representing 412 unique colleges and universities. The number of stakeholders analyzed this year was almost double the number analyzed in last year's report, and extended beyond IT and Business officers to include Housing officers.

"Schools are making strides in providing better coverage and bandwidth, but are grappling with a laundry list of needs -- holistic planning, better communication between departments, tighter security, etc. -- while processes like resource allocation and diagnostics haven't kept pace," said Dee Childs, Chair of the ACUTA Environmental Scanning Committee and Chief Information Officer at the University of Alabama.

"Administrators are trying to build better and bigger networks with yesterday's tools. It's our hope this study will provide a knowledgebase of practices and priorities to help administrators anticipate, plan ahead, and address the challenges as they scale infrastructure to meet demand."

Key Insights from the 2014 ACUTA/NACUBO/ACUHO-I State of ResNet Report include:

  • Schools Prefer "Uncapping" Access to Managing Bandwidth: The popularity of mobile devices continues to rise, with laptops, tablets, smart TVs, smartphones and wearables becoming ubiquitous. 75% of schools allow an unlimited number of devices, up from 68% in 2012. These Wi-Fi hungry devices eat up bandwidth. Yet bandwidth management is declining, with only 26% of schools capping usage, down 5.6% from last year.

  • More Strategic Plans, but are they Adding Value? Although 62% of schools have strategic plans, they are still challenged by poor diagnostic data and infrequent updates, important factors for high-quality plans.

  • Differing Perceptions & Communication Disconnects: 44% of housing officers are concerned about the ability to meet future ResNet demand, yet only 9% of IT officers voice the same concern. And 1 in 5 respondents do not meet with their IT, housing or business counterparts at all.

  • Outsourcing on the Rise: With bandwidth consumption exploding, costs rising, and funding levels declining, administrators are looking for alternate solutions. The number of those who outsourced or considered outsourcing some or all ResNet services has increased from 22% to 32%.

  • Wireless Coverage Best Where Students & Staff Work, Not Where they Live: "Anytime, Anywhere" connectivity is in demand, but fewer residence halls receive robust wireless coverage than academic and administrative areas. Less than 59% of respondents provide coverage in residential halls, and fewer than 20% provide mobility outside of residential spaces.

  • Security ranked a major concern, but few personnel allocated to field: Security is top-ranked among business officers, with 84 respondents (55%) wanting more diagnostic information on security breaches. Yet, of the 84 business officers, all but 7 have no information security personnel or between 1 and 4 staffers in this field.

  • Uphill Battle to Fund Wireless Network Growth: A vast majority of IT and Housing Officers and more than 80% of Business Officers expect costs to fund wireless infrastructure to continue to rise, but only 38% saw an increase in budget and 10% saw a reduction in budget in 2013.

  • Support: Still 9 - 5 in a 24/7 World: The percentage of schools offering 24/7 support remains nearly identical to last year at just 13%. Social media channels are playing increasing roles in support.

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 needs.

About the 2014 State of ResNet Report
For the third year, the market research firm Forward Analytics was contracted to perform ResNet industry research and to report quantitative market intelligence that can benefit higher education institutions and enhance residential computer networking for university/college students. Forward Analytics worked closely with ACUTA, ACUHO-I, and NACUBO representatives to design the 2014 survey. This year, three unique questionnaires were developed to accommodate the expanded representation of three associations/audiences. The study's 509 completed surveys represented 412 universities or colleges (some multiple respondents). With a sample (total) population of 1,700 U.S. higher education institutions, the response rate represents a statistical significance of +/- 4.2% at the 95% confidence interval.

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 nearly 2,000 individuals at more than 700 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.

NACUBO, founded in 1962, is a nonprofit professional organization representing chief administrative and financial officers at more than 2,500 colleges and universities across the country. NACUBO's mission is to promote sound management and financial practices at colleges and universities.

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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