ITaP refines PAL filtering to address initial issues, feedback welcome
ITaP has addressed some initial issues with a program to improve the availability and reliability of Purdue’s wireless network for teaching and learning and the system should now be functioning largely as intended.
Students, faculty and staff who believe they are still seeing issues can contact firstname.lastname@example.org and ITaP staff will respond, usually within a few hours. Feedback is welcome.
ITaP’s monitoring of Purdue Air Link (PAL), the main campus wireless system, indicates that the new program is achieving its purpose while still offering students a lot of flexibility. ITaP has logged a reduction in transfer across the network of about 1 gigabit per second, which equates to 10 terabytes per day in reduced transfer, a significant reduction. Traffic involving academic applications, such as Blackboard Learn, also has risen significantly on the list of sites most accessed over the wireless network.
The wireless filtering program separates some of the highest bandwidth-consuming nonacademic websites from PAL 3.0 to make more bandwidth available for academic purposes. The sites affected are Netflix, Hulu, Apple updates, iTunes, Pandora, iHeartRadio, HBO and Steam. ITaP chose to filter those sites because they were the largest nonacademic consumers of bandwidth.
- Are active only in academic buildings and only between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, which faculty identified as the time period when classwork may be in progress.
- Are not being applied at all in residence halls, libraries or in nonacademic buildings, such as the Purdue Memorial Union, Stewart Center and the Córdova Recreational Sports Center. Students can use PAL 3.0 freely in libraries and nonacademic buildings because the network is not being filtered there.
In addition, in academic buildings in spaces away from classrooms and labs, for example lounges and some hallways, a separate, unfiltered PAL-Recreational network is available for students to use for recreational purposes between classes. ITaP is working with building personnel to post signs in the locations where PAL-Recreational is available.
There is no need to switch to PAL-Recreational in libraries and nonacademic buildings, including residence halls, because the filters are not being applied to PAL 3.0 there.
ITaP began testing last fall in some large lecture classrooms and then in the Forney Hall of Chemical Engineering and expanded the filtering program to the entire campus over spring break after receiving minimal negative feedback from students and positive input from faculty.
Issues ITaP has addressed:
- Initially, some wireless access points at Hillenbrand Residence Hall and in some residence hall dining facilities were filtered and had to be reset. This has been done and unfiltered access also has been established in libraries and at the Córdova Recreational Sports Center. (There is a delay in resolving some issues like these because resets to do so require a 10-minute process that drops all nearby users from PAL. ITaP waits until a 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. window to affect as few users as possible.)
- PAL-Recreational was unavailable in some academic buildings, notably Electrical Engineering, but should be available in certain locations in every academic building now, including in the Wilmeth Active Learning Center.
- Some students have asked why Apple’s App store and system updates are filtered. The App Store uses the same streaming site as iTunes and Apple Music, which are major nonacademic bandwidth consumers. Also, while Apple updates may not be bandwidth hogs individually, a large number of people updating their devices at the same time, as tends to occur, does place a strain on the network.
Faculty access is not being filtered. Faculty with graduate students who teach and need access, or who need general student access for class purposes, can receive an exception by emailing email@example.com.
Writer: Greg Kline, IT communications manager, Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), 765-494-8167, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated: March 28, 2019
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