Votes | Average: 0 out of 5 Votes | Average: 0 out of 5 Votes | Average: 0 out of 5 Votes | Average: 0 out of 5 Votes | Average: 0 out of 5 (Be the first to rate this article) Loading ... Loading ...

by Mike Zazaian September 24, 2006 - 3:37pm, No Comments

Skype Banned by Universities Over Supernode Usage

In an unpopular move by administrators at San Jose State University, students using the school’s ethernet connection have been banned from using Skype due to bandwidth concerns.

According to San Jose State’s Office of Information Technology, concerns over Skype aren’t due to normal usage, but rather being used as a supernode, a mode in which a user’s Skype client is used to relay calls from other users. While a normal Skype call consumes only about 20 kilobytes per second of bandwidth, users report that consistent use of Skype as a supernode can consume as much as a Gigabyte of bandwidth monthly. The University of California Santa Barbara and California State University, Dominguez Hills have also blacklisted the popular VOIP software.

A memo from SJSU stated that applications such as Skype that network through grid-computing-like means are no long permissable. Other VOIP applications, such as Gizmo and Wengo, have not been banned because they do not use such grid networking techniquites. The university has also voiced concerns that Skype’s end-user license agreement is too broad. The same memo suggests Skype’s EULA grants general usage rights of the SJSU network, an authorization that students are not allowed to make.

San Jose State’s move to ban Skype hasn’t come without fierce opposition, however. Students and faculty alike have come together in an effort to re-instate the popular VOIP software for both private and educational uses. SJSU professor Steve Sloan is using his blog to get support from fellow faculty members to counter the SJSU decision. Sloan currently uses Skype as a means for students to speak directly with textbook authors as a part of class participation. According to Sloan, a tool like Skype should not be overlooked for its significant educational potential:

[Skype] is more than a program, it is a global communications and collaboration platform. It’s also a pipe into a flat world where easy communications is a strategic advantage and the loss of which is a disadvantage.

Skype’s parent company eBay, whose headquarters are located only ten miles from the San Jose State campus, intends to send representatives to speak with university administrators. Ebay’s plans for the meeting include a solution by which network administrators could prevent Skype clients from being used in the much-dreaded supernode mode. Interestingly, a publically-funded particle physics laboratory called Fermlab uses Skype, but provides employees with instructions as how to disable supernode usage, thereby preventing, Potential public embarrassment … regarding inappropriate use of government-funded resources.

Perhaps SJSU doesn’t trust its students with public funding quite as much as Fermlab trusts its employees.

[via ars technica]