When the Arkansas Public School Computer Network (APSCN) was first established the primary mission was to provide a mechanism for school districts to electronically submit required data to the state in a uniform and consistent format. A side benefit was that the same network established for the primary mission could be used for other Internet activity. However, since the level of Internet use varies greatly from school to school, it has always been difficult to determine the appropriate amount of bandwidth necessary for each school district.
APSCN has a limited amount of funds for network support; and therefore, analyzes existing network use before authorizing the Department of Information Systems (DIS) to increase any district’s bandwidth. Recent analysis indicates a significant amount of network traffic relating to Peer-to-Peer (P2P) applications. P2P applications are consuming Internet bandwidth for what is primarily personal use. These applications make it simple for anyone to download music, video or any other kind of file from anyone else on the Internet that has the same P2P application running. Far and away the bulk of the P2P bandwidth is used to share illegal copyrighted material. DIS has had to answer a considerable number of RIAA(Recording Industry Association of America) complaints in the past with a significant number of those complaints targeting APSCN IP addresses.
These applications are simple to download from the Internet and simple to use. It is not difficult for anyone to get started downloading an entire library of music. Once the user has downloaded files to the local PC it is then, by default, a server that shares the files with other users worldwide. These P2P servers become attractive targets for downloading files because of the considerable amount of Internet bandwidth APSCN has provided to the school. DIS has fielded many customer complaints regarding slow access to Pentamation that have resulted in the discovery of P2P traffic consuming all available bandwidth to the site.
Beginning July 1, 2007, the state will deny all APSCN P2P traffic at the State Network’s Internet edge. This will not affect in-state network traffic but will solve the majority of problems relating to P2P traffic. Overall state network performance should be improved and state resources spent troubleshooting P2P related problems will be conserved.