The University put a plan requiring students to purchase bandwidth subscriptions on hold Wednesday – less than a week after announcing it – because of negative feedback from students, faculty and staff members, according to a UT official.
Information Technology Services sent an email to students on July 30 announcing the current plan, where students are granted 500 MB for free, would be swapped for one where students are required to subscribe to data plans starting at $3 per semester for 10 GB each week in order to access the University's "first class" network. The new plan was scheduled to go into effect on Sept. 12.
Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer, decided to put the policy on hold and collect more feedback before determining how to move forward, according to UT spokesperson Kevin Almasy.
“We just wanted to take some time to go back and talk to people and hear their concerns and kind of make sure we understand everyone’s standing in the community and figure out how we can best serve them,” Almasy said.
Almasy said concerns from the entire University community of students, faculty and staff members influenced the decision to halt the plans.
“I know that some may read in what they want, but we’re really just trying to figure out how we can just best deliver the capabilities offered by Internet to students in a way that’s affordable to them,” Almasy said.
According to Almasy, there is no timetable for when a final decision would be made about student access to bandwidth and the plan may be modified or move forward as originally planned. Almasy said the current system is outdated and in need of change.
“It’s just no longer serving the student population,” Almasy said. “It was a policy that was enacted in 2005 when most students were still using personal desktop computers — not laptops, and there was really no smartphone yet, in terms of an iPhone or phone with streaming capabilities on it.”