Illustration by Lucas Kirsch
by Tynan Reed
Last month, Saint Michael’s College decided to renew its subscription to the Xfinity On Campus streaming service for an additional two years, according to Chief Information Officer Bill Anderson. The subscription costs the school $85,000 per year, but do students use the service enough to warrant this amount of money? While the cost decreased from the nearly $100,000 it was a few years ago, the money could be used elsewhere if not for the streaming service.
Many factors beyond private student use have to be included in the consideration of renewing the Xfinity subscription. For example, the Edmundites use the subscription and it is also used in public places like the gyms. “We thought we would take the two-year renewal so we could take time to find something more concrete to provide viewing parties or streaming services,” Anderson said.
Renewal processes occur with all services that IT offers, including cable TV and phones. “As each contract nears its end date we do an evaluation to see if it is something still being used and if any new options exist,” said Joe Pawlaczyk, Associate Director of Information Technology. “We then negotiate with the service provider in terms of the next contract.”
Additionally, there are other ongoing IT projects that could use this money, according to Anderson. One of these is to replace the wireless access points, which allow students and faculty to connect to Wifi. The current access points will go out of date in August 2020.
There are other difficulties that Anderson and those who decided whether to renew the subscription or not have faced. Comcast, the telecommunications company that owns Xfinity, has not provided the metrics Anderson would like to see. The metrics could tell IT how many students are using the service, among other information, which could make the renewal decision easier. “They basically show us the top 20 shows watched but not the number of students using the service,” Pawlaczyk said.
“That would make everything a lot simpler if they could tell us. If it’s this many unique students, this many hours. I don’t know if they have that degree of reporting capability in their access logs,” Anderson said.
“I think that immediately jumping back into the subscription again was a bit silly, especially when we don’t have figures of how many people use the service,” said James Walton ‘22. He also thought that if IT could not get the metrics, they should have created a survey to gauge student use. Walton has used the service before to watch sports games, but the majority of the time he uses other subscriptions. Walton also thinks that the school does not do a good job advertising Xfinity On Campus, claiming most people don’t know it exists.