Bandwidth is the bug in campus Napster battle

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    By Suzette Grebe

    Eric Denna, vice president of information technology at BYU, met Jan. 18 with students who are concerned about the discontinuation of Napster on campus.

    After consulting with President Merrill J. Bateman, Denna suspended campus use of Napster on Jan. 10. The cause of the suspension was due solely to limited resources, Denna said.

    In the past three months, Napster usage has gone from consuming 5 percent to 46 percent of the bandwidth, Denna said.

    Students came to the evening meeting with many suggestions about how to solve the problem. Denna assured the students their ideas had been considered but were not currently feasible.

    There is the possibility of a commercial provider offering the service, but this could be costly to students, Denna said.

    “As to legal and moral issues, we are trying to let the dialogue run its course,” Denna said. “The only justification for what I did was the resource issue.”

    There are two problems associated with Napster, Denna said. The size of one Napster file is the equivalent of thousands of e-mail files, and once a student is a Napster client, he also assists as a server.

    “There was a time in the Fall when four or five individuals were consuming 90 percent of our bandwidth through MP3 files,” Denna said.

    Napster has contacted Denna with suggestions such as buying more bandwidth.

    “We can”t buy bandwidth at an exponential rate,” Denna said.

    Denna stressed that the budget for this technology is dominated by tithing funds.

    “Should we use Widow Jones” tithing so a student can download a Metallica song?” he said. “We must be wise stewards of these consecrated funds.”

    Students commented that Napster is used for educational as well as recreational purposes.

    “Through Napster, I was able to download all the songs I needed for a Music 101 class instead of purchasing the $75 CD,” said Natalie Lovin, 18, a freshman from Portland, Ore., majoring in business management. “If I didn”t have Napster, I wouldn”t have been able to make an A in the class because I didn”t have the money to purchase to CD.”

    Denna assured students that he is sympathetic to the issue but said he must also look at the problems it causes.

    Students expressed appreciation to Denna for keeping Napster as long as he did since many universities discontinued the service long before the issue was even addressed at BYU.

    Denna said he plans to start more of an educational effort about the use of the network among students and faculty.

    The network can be used for personal use unless it compromises the stability of the network, Denna said.

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