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Students: NLS admin, new VC process at zero bandwidth; cheap campus broadband blocked YouTube, Netflix

NLS student reverting to watching movies via DVD, yesterday
NLS student reverting to watching movies via DVD, yesterday

In a bid to fix NLSIU Bangalore’s ageing network infrastructure, which had broken down for around two weeks in part of the campus, the administration - still under interim stewardship pending the appointment of Prof Sudhir Krishnaswamy as vice chancellor (VC) - had ‘upgraded’ its internet connections to a new provider.

But as the new internet connection went live early yesterday, students found that video and music streaming services such as Google’s YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Spotify had also been blocked.

According to campus sources, the administration claimed that this was a security measure, but it’s more likely that they wanted to make sure that data limits on the new but considerably cheaper internet connection they had bought would not be breached.

We have been informed by several sources that the university had opted for a standard consumer-grade broadband connection that has a 10TB (10,000GB) monthly data cap for the entire campus, which would work out to around 20GB per month for each of the more than 500 students on campus, excluding teachers.

Streaming video can take up anything between 700MB to 3GB per hour, depending on the quality, meaning that if each student watched seven hours of high definition (HD) video or 30 hours of standard definition (SD) video per month, the entire school’s quota would run out.

But even without students binge-watching the latest season of Stranger Things or Sacred Games (which, we’re given to understand, is not uncommon amongst today’s youngsters), such bandwidth could also get eaten up with watching lectures or other learning resources on YouTube or other services, on top of plain academic and personal internet use.

Students were understandably far from pleased: you may take far too long to appoint a new VC, but you will never take our internet, the administration should have predicted as a reaction.

We understand that the students complained and the administration later yesterday made the streaming sites accessible again, but not before memes circulated amongst the student body lambasting the administration.

All this happened against the backdrop of a recent controversial Rs 50,000 fee hike we had first reported in June, which for the first time also included students’ being levied internet fees of Rs 12,500 per year.

Even buying a mobile phone internet simcard for every student would have given each student more data for far less money, one student told us.

Major malaise

But the rapid return of Fleabag and Mr Robot (pictured) doesn’t mean that everything is hunky dory now: students are concerned that the administration has been in stasis for the last month-and-a-half, since the effective takeover of NLSIU affairs by acting VC Prof MK Ramesh and registrar Prof Nandimath OV, who are allegedly not accessible to students.

The roll-out of the new internet connection without consulting students, was a case in point.

We have reached out to both for comment via email and phone, with queries regarding the internet and the below.

The more serious complaints include several policy changes instituted by the administration, which have hit the students hard:

  • student associations now have to pay the university from Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 just to use university halls to hold events for students, which used to be made available for free, stretching the already “shoestring” budgets of such bodies, according to one student;
  • gift hampers to visiting dignitaries used to be provided by the VC’s office for free; now student bodies are forced to buy such hampers out of their own limited budgets;
  • other costs that used to be covered by the college, such as a college photographer or fees to dignitaries, have also been absorbed by student body budgets in the last month-and-a-half;
  • the VC and registrar are allegedly very unresponsive to emails and are rarely available to speak to students in their offices.

On top of all that, the appointment of Krishnaswamy as VC - cleared by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and selection committee chaired by Supreme Court Justice SA Bobde - appears to have hit unspecified roadblocks within the admin blocks of Nagarbhavi.

No one seems to quite know when his appointment will take effect, if ever.

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