The current MIT standard for upgrades and new building construction is 2 ports per pillow at 100Mbps and wireless service. Baker, Sidney Pacific, The Warehouse, and Simmons conform to the standard.
Senior House currently has 100Mbps and wireless service, but only one port per student.
Other dorms may have wireless (via dorm provided, or individual student provided access points), but it is not supported by Information Systems.
The most common reason for traffic congestion on these networks are file sharing programs. Many file sharing programs are quite aggressive about consuming as much bandwidth as they can and these programs also believe that MIT has a very high speed connection so attempt to retrieve files from MIT with a higher priority than from other locations.
Backing up your hard drive from one machine on the network to another using windows file sharing has also been known to really slow down the dorm networks. If you'd like to back up your computer to another machine on the network, if at all possible, hook the machines up to each other directly using a crossover cable. If that's not possible, the use a more network friendly protocol like ftp or ssh to transfer your files between machines.
File sharing programs also have a "supernode" option. What this option does is advertizes your machine as the source of all files on your subnet, causing more people to try to download files from your machine and increasing traffic on your network. This option is typically enabled by default and should be turned off.
If your file sharing program allows you to rate limit uploading and downloading, you should set rate limits. What rate limit will work best is highly dependent on the amount of traffic on the network at the time, but 384kbps for downloads and 128kbps for uploads is a reasonable place to start. Keep in mind that if you're on one of the 10Mbps shared networks, the entire rest of your dorm is contending for that 10Mbps of bandwidth.
The town meetings enabled Information Systems and Housing to hear the students' concerns and begin preliminary plans for an upgrade. Much of the planning took place over the fall semester. Installing new equipment to support 100Mbps and wireless would require new Telecom rooms, as there was simply no way to squeeze additional equipment into the existing spaces. Housing and Information Systems worked together to identify locations for the new rooms. The process to identify and agree upon locations for these new Telecom rooms was long, however it ensured that the interruption to the students would be minimal.
Each student will have 4 RJ-45 ports. One port will be reserved for analog phone service. Two ports will be activated for MITnet service at 100Mbps. The fourth port will be reserved for future service. Each dorm will be getting Information Systems' supported 802.11b wireless service, using access points similar to the ones installed in academic buildings around campus.
The upgrades are currently planned to do be done in several phases. Phase I, which is expected to kick off before the end of 2003, will include the following dorms: Next House (W71), East Campus (62 & 64), Bexley (W13), New House (W70). The networks in these buildings are currently unmaintainable, and as such, are a high priority for upgrades. In the interim, Information Systems has been working in the space obtained thus far to provide some incremental upgrades and short-term solutions for these networks. Once Phase I is underway, additional dorms will be identified and necessary space will be found for the next round of upgrades based on the availability of funding.
In a dorm, acquiring space may mean taking away student rooms. Information Systems has been working closely with the Department of Housing to obtain adequate space and minimize disruption to students. Finding appropriate space for new telecommunications rooms can be a lengthy process involving much negotiation and compromise.
The upgrade project also requires substantial funding. The Department of Housing is contributing $900,000, and Information Systems is contributing $2.9 million to Phase I of the upgrade project.