Ohio University Blocks Netflix, Backpedals

Ohio University briefly instituted a “No-Netflix (s NFLX) Policy” on its campus network this week, attempting to blocking access to the service in an effort to deal with acute network congestion (hat tip to Davis Freeberg). However, the measure backfired, temporarily taking down the university’s entire network during finals week. The school has since instituted a general bandwidth limit, and its CIO Brice Bible is now urging universities to have “a substantive conversation” on how to deal with their students’ Netflix usage.

Bible informed students earlier this week that a temporary Netflix block would go into effect Monday night, saying that the video service is “the largest single consumer of our Internet capacity.” School technicians tried to block Netflix twice that night, but instead shut off net access entirely. They finally gave up and instead instituted a 5Mbps download limit per residence hall user. It’s unclear whether this will help much, since most Netflix streams are 3800kbps or less.

Ohio U’s Technology Department said on its website Tuesday that streaming media now accounts for 60 percent of all traffic on its campus network. Netflix alone is responsible for 28 percent. The school received a 10 percent bandwidth increase in February, but is still regularly maxing out on available bandwidth. The post was illustrated with the following bandwidth graph:

The incident brings back memories of a time when file sharing services like Napster and later BitTorrent were saturating campus networks. Many schools — including Ohio University — instituted bans on all P2P protocols at the time, only to later switch to models that target specific acts of infringement. However, it looks like P2P only plays a minor role in network congestion these days. At Ohio University, only six percent of all bandwidth is consumed by BitTorrent.

No TV image courtesy of Flickr user Mykl Roventine.