WiFi Speeds at the NYU Bobst Library

I had a couple of hours to kill last night in Greenwich Village in New York City, and I enjoyed walking everywhere — including Cornelia Street and the temporary Apple SoHo store at 72 Greene Street — to relive some beloved, old, memories of living in that neighborhood years ago.  Another regular, old, haunt of mine was NYU’s beautiful Bobst library.  It had been awhile since I’d been in Bobst with a WiFi device and so last night I decided to do some testing with my new iPhone 4S and iPad 2 — and the results were amazing!

NYU’s WiFi stream in Bobst is unbelievably fast.  The instant I connected to its secure network, I was met with unimaginable speed.

My connections were 36133kbps or 44MB down and 26318kbps or 32MB up!  Here’s the Speedtest.Net result as proof:

Checking mail and doing some basic surfing was instantaneous on both the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4S — even though there were hundreds of students all simultaneously using the same internet backbone at 6pm last night.

Next, I decided to test some iTunes Match song downloads from iCloud to see how fast multimedia could be pulled from the great beyond.  First, I tried downloading one song.  The connection noticeably slowed, and the one song was downloaded in a couple of minutes.  Perhaps NYU throttles entertainment downloads?

Then, after some more surfing and emailing, I decided to do a more aggressive songs download from iTunes Match.  I picked 108 Gary Moore songs and touched the single “Download All” button to see what would happen on my iPad 2.

Nothing happened.

iTunes Match started the “clock” download indicator, but no songs were being downloaded.  The state of the downloads stayed like that for about 20 minutes and then, as if a switch were being turned on somewhere, seven songs immediately began to simultaneously download!

It’s clear that NYU has throttling and prioritization queues in effect on at least the Bobst WiFi connection.  You make a request to the network, and the network queues your request and decides if it wants to deliver you a single, slow, music download right away, or if the network wants to make you wait 20 minutes so it can deliver a more robust, and healthy, multimedia download.

It took about 15 minutes on the Bobst network to download 108 songs.  I was entirely impressed and delighted with the result.

If you’re looking to attend a school that supports technology and its students and faculty in wonderful and robust ways in every event and arena, you cannot beat NYU ITS.  NYU are always first-to-market and they live on the bleeding, cutting, edge of mechanical advances and their students and faculty always get the best technical service in the end. Believe me. I’ve lived it and I’ve experienced it over the last 20 years.

8 comments

  • I have been with you in the past in the NYU area. It is so pretty and nice. Lots of students and kind people. Quite the adventure. Doesn’t surprise me they have good internet service. I wonder if they have a problem with students downloading songs and movies and things?

    • Those were some wonderful times, Anne! We will have many more of them. I don’t know what sort of restrictions NYU places on student downloading. There must be some sort of monthly limit, though, or the network would be crippled with multi-gig downloads all day and night long.

  • Great speed, David! Glad you had a good time at your old stomping grounds.

    • Bobst has definitely changed since it first opened. Tons more students. Computers everywhere. Lots of books in the stacks that nobody borrows or reads. Everyone just sits at a table and looks at a computer screen.

  • I cannot agree with this article. Right now I’m sitting at the Bobst library and the internet speed is appalling. Well, it’s really the throttling which is appalling. It seems that if you download too much, they just kick you off, and it takes 1-2 minutes to get back on. That in itself isn’t a bad thing, but by ‘downloading’ I mean regular internet browsing. If I visit a couple of content-heavy websites (with flash videos for instance), which I *have to* for one of my courses, it’ll just slow down and eventually kick me off. It makes browsing a pain. What’s worse, it seems to remember the students that have been bottlenecked before, and automatically, randomly disconnects both my laptop and my iPhone 4S from the network. Even when I’m not actively using them.

    Being an exchange student, I’ve also received a few Skype calls while in the library (no video, just audio). Again, the network will just disconnect me. When I reset the wifi (on my iPhone), it’ll connect and I’ll be able to make a call for 2-3 minutes and then it disconnects again. It does differ per floor, however. Floor 6 is best until now, where I’ve only had some disconnects.

    The above has not happened to me at any other NYU building, just Bobst. And it happens during busy and calm hours. It’s weird and annoying, and not what I expected from a prestigious institute like NYU! Besides this snag, my other experiences at NYU have been great so far.

    • Hi Thomas!

      Thanks for the feedback and the comment. When I did my test, the library was packed and I was, as I admitted in the article, absolutely shocked at the tremendous speeds. I wonder if it was because I was using iOS? Perhaps they were testing connection speeds that night and the pipe was full-open? That’s why I took screenshots of my connection speeds — I couldn’t believe how fast the network was!

      Did you get any hard numbers for your download or upload speeds? Can you install the “Speedtest” App on your iOS devices so we can get a sense of how fast you’re connecting to the network? You’re smart to try different floors. Now everyone will be joining you on the 6th, I fear. SMILE!

      I do know some WiFi networks with tons of connections only want quick text browsing and email. Heavy multimedia is a massive drain on the network. I wonder if you could Skype in the early morning hours or when the library is less busy? Please do more testing and keep us updated!

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