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Groundbreaking ACUTA Report Reveals New Trends, Challenges Facing Higher Education in Its First Long-Term Study of Residential Networking (ResNet) Practices Across the Nation

The 2012 ACUTA State of ResNet Report Demonstrates Unresolved Tug-of-War Between Meeting Student Demand and Planning for Future Challenges (March 22, 2012)

LEXINGTON, KY -- (Marketwire) -- 03/22/12 -- The Association for Information Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education (ACUTA), the only international association dedicated exclusively to serving the needs of higher education information communications technology professionals, today announced the publication of its first annual ACUTA State of ResNet Report. The ACUTA report, a comprehensive survey designed to measure the broad variation in practice and policy within higher education and lay the groundwork for long-term trend analysis and benchmarking, is its first study to target all higher education institutions in the United States with on-campus residential housing and to focus exclusively on issues affecting the residential student network.

During a period of significant budget tightening, demands on the student network continue to grow at an accelerating pace, adding pressure on colleges and universities to address critical cost and management challenges. The study addresses issues such as bandwidth and connectivity challenges, budget and staffing demands, and rising student expectations in an environment of competitive enrollment pressures and ever-changing network standards and technology. The ACUTA study will develop a long-term body of knowledge around an area where very little aggregate data currently exists.

"An unprecedented perfect storm is forming on the horizon of network technology while IT budgets tighten across the country," said Joseph Harrington, ACUTA President and Director of Networking at Boston College. "In this changing environment, efficient management of the ResNet is fast becoming a top priority for CIOs. With this study, ACUTA will begin shedding light on diverse practices, actively contribute to developing standards and provide a central knowledgebase that will better equip IT administrators to make decisions for the future."

Key Highlights of the 2012 ACUTA ResNet Trends & Practices Report include:

  • Unlimited Connectivity: A large majority (68 percent) of institutions allow students unlimited access to the ResNet, and more than 62 percent do not monitor bandwidth consumption.

  • Strained Resources: Nearly 50 percent of IT departments do not recover the cost of supplying bandwidth to residential networks, and nearly 60 percent of institutions cite a total capacity below the 500 Mbps threshold.

  • Limited Student Support: Less than 10 percent of schools offer around-the-clock support, and more than 65 percent of residents can only access support by phone.

The full report, available free at, provides further trends and insights into higher education's ResNet structures, network infrastructure - present and future, and staffing service and support.

Residential Network Structures
The responsibilities of higher education CIOs and IT departments are continuing to expand as they grapple with complex issues such as technical support, security, bandwidth management and illegal file sharing. However, the vast majority (69 percent) of universities and colleges have not considered outsourcing portions (such as support and maintenance) of the residential network system. Only 9 percent of higher education institutions presently outsource significant portions to a non-university organization, while a scant 2 percent have previously outsourced these services.

This study reveals a potential trend in outsourcing. About 4 percent of survey respondents indicate that their university/college is now considering outsourcing, and about 15 percent have considered this option but have yet to pursue any plans.

Network Infrastructure -- Present and Future
The proliferation of mobile devices, the ever-increasing thirst for bandwidth and demand for wireless coverage emerged as three top concerns. Despite anxiety over bandwidth management, the majority of universities and colleges (68.1 percent) allow students to connect unlimited devices to the ResNet. In contrast, only 19 percent limit bandwidth to mobile and network devices.

Staffing Service and Support
ACUTA's report suggests that there may be added potential to explore new channels of network assistance, such as through live chat, SMS text messaging and via social media. Currently a majority (65.2 percent) of residents must contact support by phone, and only 9 percent of schools provide 24/7 network support. Although there is a case for more web-based support, CIOs should have a contingency access plan if there are network connectivity problems.

About the 2012 ACUTA State of ResNet Report
In support of its mission, ACUTA contracted with Forward Analytics, a nationally-recognized market research firm, to design and conduct this study during the first three weeks of February 2012. The ACUTA ResNet study was conducted online and targeted higher education IT leaders or persons responsible for ResNet and infrastructure. A total of 255 surveys were completed, representing 249 universities or colleges (six institutions had two respondents) within a sample population of 2,004 U.S. higher education institutions determined to have provided on-campus housing for students. Of the respondents, 51.8 percent were from private organizations and 48.2 percent from public institutions.

ACUTA, the Association for Information Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education, is an international nonprofit educational association serving colleges and universities. Its core purpose is to support higher education information communications technology professionals in contributing to the achievement of the strategic mission of their institutions. ACUTA represents nearly 2,000 individuals at more than 700 institutions of higher education, with members ranging from small schools and community colleges to the very largest U.S. institutions. ACUTA's corporate affiliate members represent all categories of communications technology vendors serving the college/university market. For more information about ACUTA and its mission, visit or call 859-278-3338.

Media Contact:
Pat Scott
ACUTA Communications Director
859-278-3338 ext. 221
Email Contact

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