Everything you really want to know about our internet bandwidth (and some things you don't)
Davidson has a 10Gb/s physical link to the internet, which is connected in Charlotte. Of that, we subscribe to a package that allows us an average of 1.5Gb/s. An appliance called NetEqualizer controls the bandwidth and prevents us from going too far outside our package. Here's how it works:
The NetEqualizer monitors individual connections. Your computer is probably making dozens of simultaneous connections at the moment to destinations like outlook, ZenDesk, Spotify, windows update, etc (open a command prompt and run "netstat -a" to get a good look at them). If the total bandwidth utilization of the campus is beneath a certain threshold (let's say 1.5Gb/s, although this value gets adjusted occasionally), the NetEqualizer passes all traffic untouched. At that point we are well within our resource limitations, so all client connections are allowed as much bandwidth as they care to consume.
When the bandwidth utilization exceeds that threshold (again, let's say 1.5Gb/s), the NetEqualizer will begin looking at individual connections that are using the most bandwidth. Let's say a device is downloading a file at the rate of 200Mb/s, which is the top user. The NetEqualizer will then decide to cut that stream in half, so 100Mb/s. At that point, it may fall under the 1.5Gb/s threshold and be done. After a short period, the penalty will be lifted and it will re-evaluate.
The NetEqualizer also has a setting called a Hog Minimum. This setting means that even when the NetEqualizer is acting on connections, it will not affect anything under the Hog Minimum. Our Hog Minimum is usually set to somewhere between 6Mb/s and 10Mb/s. That means that no matter what happens, a NetFlix stream (3Mb/s for SD quality, 5Mb/s for HD) will never be affected by the NetEqualizer's actions. Streaming audio and video all typically fall under that threshold. In fact, the main thing that will get acted upon will be file downloads. So at peak internet utilization, the worst thing that will happen is that your file download takes a bit longer. (Note that Netflix Ultra HD 4K streams can take up to 25Mb/s, so it is could to be paired back to HD during peak times). Also, note that the bandwidth of a whole device is not punished by one connection, so just because you are downloading a large file that gets cut back, doesn't mean your Skype session will falter.
At Davidson, we have a redundant internet connection, which means we have two 10Gb/s connections to the internet. If one connection were to go down, our border gateway will sense the failure and re-route all traffic through the alternate connection. This process takes just a few seconds, so it will largely go unnoticed. The backup connection is also our connection to a backup data center in Research Triangle Park, which hosts several Davidson servers that do disaster recovery, data backup, and house redundant infrastructure. CrashPlan is the most user-facing of these services. The backup connection does not, however, failover to our primary connection, so if this connection is lost backup services will cease until the connection is restored.