Information Technology Services

Drop Shadow

How fast should download and upload speeds be at USD?


This seemingly simple question is actually very difficult to answer.  There are a myriad of factors that can change your speed connecting to the Internet - some under our control and some that are not.  Instead of focusing on a specific minimum speed, ITS focuses on providing consistent, reliable Internet access (we'll often do "real world" tests, such as loading a few YouTube videos and see if we have buffering problems). 


Since we cannot specifically answer that question, we can at least cover some of the factors that go into your Internet speeds at USD.


Our USD Network:

As of April 2013, USD has a 1,000 MBit/s connection to the Internet (provided through two Internet Service Providers, or ISPs). This connection is used by all academic and residence hall buildings, as well as for providing services (such as MySanDiego) to users off campus. This is higher than many colleges our size, and as of April 2013 we've never maxed out our Internet connection.  Most buildings are connected together with 1,000 MBit/s connections, and many of our Ethernet ports where we plug in computers and wireless access points are also 1,000 MBit/s.  We also use tools to detect computers with viruses or using file sharing to reduce their impact on other computer's Internet speeds.


How you connect:

How a computer is connected will greatly impact your speed on the Internet.  Computers that are plugged in to Ethernet ports will likely have a faster and more reliable Internet connection.  Wireless speeds can be impacted by the number of people nearby using wireless, what type of wireless card you have (2.4Ghz is the older style, 5Ghz is the newer/faster style), etc. We've put together another KB article explaining wireless interference causes.  The 'usdsecure' and 'usd' wireless networks are both the same speed, though 'usdguest' users are limited to what services they can access and have a slightly slower Internet connection speed.


(Note: As of April 15, 2013 we are experiencing slower than expected wireless speeds on 'usdsecure' in the residence halls.  This is not by design, and our Network team is working with our vendors to improve speeds.  Most users are not impacted by this slower speed, but if you are experiencing problems, please try 'usd' and see if your speeds are faster.)


Your Computer:

Your computer has a large impact on the performance you'll have on the Internet.  If your computer is often showing an hourglass or loading icon, it could be a sign the web browser can't keep up.  It's important that you do all the required updates for your device, especially any driver updates to your wireless (think of drivers as special programs that tell your computer how wireless works - updated versions will fix bugs and be more efficient). If you're having problems, we also recommend you bring your device to the ITS Help Desk and we'd be glad to look at it!



Another reason wireless can be slower than wired Ethernet is due to the way wireless is engineered.  When you use wireless, your computer or tablet has to take turns talking to the wireless access point (AP) with all the other people around you.  This is like taking a test in a classroom by having each student take turns reading their answers out loud to the professor!  However, wireless devices are designed to take turns and will automatically repeat (or retransmit) their requests if they "talk over" another device. 

It's also possible the website or service you're using is overloaded from so many people using it - remember, they have their own connection to the Internet that can get maxed out too!  If you're having problems with one site or service, it's a good idea to try a second one and see if the problem is widespread.  Other problems on the Internet, such as recent DDoS attacks in Europe, can cause worldwide slowdowns.



Another tool USD uses to guarantee reliable Internet speeds and reduce the use of illegal file sharing is called throttling or shaping. Throttling will try and prioritize USD's Internet traffic, helping to guarantee web browsing and email are given high priority and that file sharing is given a lower priority.  


Other Questions:

If you have any other questions, or feel your Internet speeds are not what they should be, please reach out to the ITS Help Desk and we'll be glad to take a look at your computer and answer your questions!