FOCUS - Internet usage at Belgian universities increases exponentially

53 petabyte of data used during last academic year

The start of the new academic year is causing a peak in the traffic on our network that is generated by universities and colleges of higher education. It is typically very high in October and November and sees a decline during the holiday periods.

Furthermore, we notice that the internet usage in higher education institutions increases each year. For example, during the second semester of the academic year 2017-2018, the internet data usage at Belgian universities has increased by 21 percent compared to the same period in the previous year. During the full academic year 2017-2018, a total of 53.64 petabyte of data was used, which equals the amount of data of a full-HD movie with a running time of 2,616 years.

This increase is not a new phenomenon. Over the past fifteen years, we have noticed an annual increase in data consumption of 20 to 25 percent on our network. The universities follow the same trend as for them the internet is also a basic tool for their core activities.

Digitalisation of education

The number of end users in higher education institutions has increased slightly (13.4 percent compared to five years ago). During the same period, the internet usage itself tripled.

Herman Moons, responsible for Central ICTS Infrastructure at the Catholic University of Louvain: “The reason for this growth is obvious. We are using more multimedial data due to the popularity of streaming services like YouTube and the digitization of the education system. Handing in assignments, publishing class schedules and courses, it all happens online. Students can even watch entire lectures on the Massive Open Online Courses platform. Our researchers also use the network more: international collaboration has become the norm.”

Belnet is expecting a similar increase, between 20 and 25 percent, during the upcoming academic year. The rise of the Internet of Things and virtual reality will certainly contribute to this. Thanks to its state-of-the-art network, Belnet is ready to further assume its role as a stable partner for the universities and colleges of higher education.