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100Mbps at Work!

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

When I started working at Harley they had a DOCSIS (cable modem) connection to the internet with speeds at a whopping 2 megabits per second (Mbps) incoming and 128 kilobits per second (Kbps) outgoing! This functioned just fine for the whole school of 500 kids and over a hundred faculty and staff. Fast-forward a decade and it's a whole different story.

A couple years ago we were able to make an acceptable deal to get a dedicated ethernet connection delivered over fiber from an awesome internet service provider. The bandwidth allowance was set at 30Mbps. Unlike the asymmetrical nature of cable internet where they give you a fraction of the bandwith in the outgoing direction, metro ethernet allows for your bandwidth limit in each direction at the same time. Going from cable internet to dedicated ethernet was amazing. This worked for us for a couple years, but once again I started noticing the connection being fully utilized more and more and for longer periods of time. I keep a very close eye on internet usage and it wasn't due to abusive things like bittorrent clients on student laptops, it was just legitimate traffic used by everyone. There is just more media-rich content out there that is being used in the classroom. I'm very happy that these kinds of resources are being utilized and the only sensible thing to do was to renegotiate our contract to get more bandwidth.

I had no desire to switch internet service providers. Our current ISP, Fibertech, is absolutely amazing. In the two years we've been using them we had 0 downtime. So it was easy to ask them to renew our contract early with a higher bandwidth limit. I got a very good deal on 100Mbps and the new limit was provisioned a week or so ago over Christmas break.

Harley download speedtest

Getting accurate speedtest results at this speed level can be kind of tough. These speedtest server often just don't have enough free bandwidth to show you real results. This one shows pretty accurate download, but the upload isn't that great. I am able to push 93+Mbps to a few of my own personal servers, so I know the service is working as it should.

harley upload speedtest

After all, it's unlikely you're going to use a full 100Mbps on a single connection, it'll be used up by tens of classrooms all streaming videos and other content at the same time.

The only questionable piece of the puzzle left is whether my content filter can support these speeds. According to the documentation our current model can support 30-50Mbps. I like to think it'll do more than that and they're just being conservative, but we'll see. If it proves to be a bottleneck I can trade it in and get credit toward a larger model that can support this kind of traffic. I'd just rather save the money for something else if I can. The above speedtests were run on a server on the inside of the content filter, so obviously it can handle the raw speed requirement, but there wasn't any filtering involved, so we'll have to wait and see. Either way, I'm super excited for my new increase in speed!

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