Newswise — Online classrooms. Multiple digital devices per person. State-of-the-art faculty research. Increasing numbers of students. New dormitories.

All add up to one thing: far more demand on CSU campuses' communications networks.

But help is on the way. Nine CSU campuses will upgrade from their existing 10-gigabit internet connection to a high-speed, 100-gigabit connection that can handle the ever-increasing demand for bandwidth. These campuses are Cal Poly Pomona, CSU Fullerton, CSU Long Beach, CSU Northridge, CSU San Bernardino, Sacramento State, San Diego State, San Francisco State, and San José State.

The upgrades are expected to be completed by fall 2018 and one campus' upgrade, that of San Diego State, is already done.

To understand the power of the upgrade, a single streaming HD video consumes five megabits per second; the new 100-gigabit capacity is able to handle 20,000 streaming videos concurrently — a 10-fold increase from the bandwidth currently available on these campuses.

"Internet speeds at these nine campuses were likely to be impacted soon, so we had to act in a timely manner," says Michel Davidoff, Chief Infrastructure Officer of the California State University Chancellor's Office, in Long Beach.

"Much of what students do is now over a wireless internet connection," he adds. "Not only have the number of students grown on these campuses, but each student uses two to three devices, which can affect a campus' overall internet performance if there's not enough bandwidth capacity to handle the traffic."

​The campuses will be upgraded to 100 gigs via the nonprofit Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), which operates the California Research and Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity education and research fiber network designed to meet the unique requirements of more than 20 million users at campuses and libraries across the state.

CENIC and CalREN serve the K-12 system, California Community Colleges, the CSU and UC systems, California's public libraries, Stanford, Caltech, USC, and the Naval Postgraduate School. The CSU is a governing member of the CENIC consortium, and the partnership has enabled the system to increase campus connectivity while keeping costs stable.

"The project will enhance education and provide students and faculty with unthrottled access to the internet," Davidoff says. "It also helps faculty pursue research grants, many of which require a 100-gig network.

Both brick-and-mortar and online classrooms will benefit from a "bigger electronic pipeline," says Davidoff, because connectivity and video quality will improve. 

In addition, the upgrade will support faculty-led innovation and research, high performance and high throughput computing (which require a high level of computer resources), augmented reality and virtual reality technologies, and artificial intelligence and machine learning.

"This investment demonstrates the CSU's commitment to providing the robust network infrastructure needed by today's students and faculty," notes Patrick Perry, Chief Information Officer at the CSU Chancellor's Office.

"Reliance on digital teaching and learning resources continues to grow as our faculty develop new and innovative ways to use technology to enhance student success."