The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday September 28th

Network Traffic Lowered By Limits On File-Sharing

ATN's new bandwidth policy has slowed access to file-sharing programs like KaZaA and Morpheus but has improved traffic.

The new policy, which took effect Aug. 28, has successfully prevented file-sharing traffic from clogging the network, Academic Technology & Networks officials said.

Applications that allow file-sharing include the KaZaA network, which supports the Morpheus program, and the Gnutella network.

"KaZaA traffic was more than three times the amount of Web traffic," said ATN Networking and Communications Director Jim Gogan. "Since we put the rate limit in place, Web traffic is two to three times more than anything else."

Limiting bandwidth for file-sharing programs means cutting down on the amount of network space a single user can take up at one time to use these programs.

"If you imagine the network as a big multi-lane highway, there are some programs that will take up all of the highway, and other programs will have trouble getting anywhere because there's no room on the highway," said Bruce Egan, assistant director of ATN's Information Technologies Response Center.

"We're not going to let you have all eight lanes; we'll only let you have one."

The bandwidth limitations can make downloads from the file-sharing applications Gnutella and KaZaA take longer, but it makes the network easier to access for more people. "What we are trying to make sure is if you sit down at your computer to send e-mail or to go to Blackboard or go to Student Central, you can do it," Egan said, noting that only certain applications are targeted and that other downloads shouldn't be affected.

Limiting download rates is a better solution than buying more bandwidth, which costs so much that all 16 UNC-system campuses share it, Gogan said.

Some students are unhappy about the change, but more complaints centered around the shutdown of Napster, which has nothing to do with the University.

ATN officials said that a number of students have expressed gratitude that file-sharing traffic on the campus network has been reduced. "We have gotten e-mail from students thanking us because they're having an easier time getting to Web pages they need to get to," Gogan said.

Other students said they have simply accepted their reduced ability to download certain files. "I used to (download files), then it got slow, so I stopped," said sophomore Rob Weldon, who recalls that last year the download rate was three or four times faster than it is with the new policy.

"I really enjoyed just sampling different types of music, though it's probably given me more time to do other things."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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