Purdue Blocks Streaming Sites to Maximize Bandwidth

Purdue University has a radical solution to its bandwidth problem: blocking streaming services from lecture halls. Blocked sites include Netflix, Apple Updates, iTunes, Hulu and Steam.

What is blocked?

The university blocked the aforementioned streaming sites from four of its largest lecture halls between 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. According to Journal & Courier, the pilot study is expected to last the first ten weeks of fall semester. If successful, Purdue may expand the program to include more classrooms.

Why block streaming sites?

Purdue’s lecture halls have limited bandwidth. According to the Washington Examiner, Purdue University’s broadband costs have recently doubled. So, the incentive to limit bandwidth use is high.

According to Journal & Courier, a study of WiFi traffic in two of the university’s lecture halls revealed that video streaming sites made up 10 percent of bandwidth use. This is a major reason why streaming was the target of this study. It’s easy to see why watching movies in class would be counterproductive, so the university likely saw this as something with limited impact on classes.

In cases when these sites are necessary for instructional purposes, instructors maintain the ability to access these sites. Purdue can even allow students access when necessary for classroom instruction by opening up a “pinhole” that allows temporary access according to Inside Higher Ed.

Reactions

Students’ reactions are mixed, though Julie Kercher-Updike, Purdue’s deputy chief information officer, told the Washington Examiner that most students have said nothing on the subject. According to Inside Higher Ed, the only formal complaint received was from an instructor wondering why her classroom was not part of the study.

How to Implement This for Your Organization

With the right software, you too can restrict access to streaming sites. There several ways to accomplish this. For example, content filter, firewalls or a profile on a controller or access point can all make this possible. The key is gaining enough context to block users. Examples include, are they visiting a streaming site, are they using an access point in the lecture hall or are they a student? Depending on the capabilities of your network devices, a profile can be updated to quarantine the user.

How SafeConnect Can Help

SafeConnect’s policies can be configured to place the students into particular profiles within the content filter, controller or firewall to enable their devices to be blocked in lecture halls. Faculty and staff connecting to the same network access points would be permitted access based on the contextual policies leveraging the organization’s identity access management solution (AD/LDAP) to know the user’s role.

To learn more about SafeConnect’s ability to block devices from your network, request a demo.

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