March 31, 2005

Dorms to Get CUTV

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Students living in Cornell’s residence halls will the option of purchasing a new campus television service starting next fall. The new Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) service, called CUTV, will be viewable on Windows-based PCS and standard televisions. Brought to campus by the Cornell Information Technologies and Campus Life, CUTV will offer 50 Time Warner channels.

Although CUTV costs have yet to be finalized, the service will likely cost $30 a month if the content is viewed through the computer and $45 from a television set with an Ethernet set top box, according to Dave Vernon, CIT’s Director of Information Technology.

“We are one of the first and largest colleges going down the [IPTV] path,” Vernon said.

In an attempt to equalize amenities in Cornell’s residence halls, Campus Life began several years ago to look into bringing cable television to all dormitories. Currently, many of the newer residence halls, such as Court Hall and Mews Hall, have access to cable television while the older dormitories do not. As re-wiring the older dormitories with access to traditional or coaxial cable would be extremely expensive, Campus Life began talks with cable providers that could offer the less-expensive IPTV option.

“The program is happening now because technology has gotten to a point where [IPTV] seemed the most reasonable access because of cost [to us]. We also wanted to make sure the program came at a good deal for students,” said Kellie Page, Campus Life’s Director of Business Services.

Different than traditional coaxial cable in which one physical channel carries a signal through another channel to transmit video signals, the IPTV service distributes content through an existing data network. Once installed, CUTV will deliver content to all of Cornell’s 44 residence halls through data ports with at least 10/100 Mpbs Ethernet capability.

Kevin Feeney, CIT senior information technology engineer for network and communication services, said the main issue with providing cable to all residence halls was finding contact providers that would deliver content through personal computers. Some content providers worried that students could gain access to the service without paying.

However, Vernon said the service will be encrypted so that only those who pay will be able to view the channels.

“When people pay, they will get a device to take care that those who don’t pay can’t watch. It will be impossible for others to view,” he said.

Feeney said the program has received positive feedback, as undergraduates were able to view CUTV during Campus Life’s Room Selection Process.

“In every interaction we’ve had with students and in surveys we’ve gotten a very positive reaction to the program,” he said.

Page said that coaxial cable will still be available to students in dormitories in which it is already in place because it is too costly to pull out the service. However, she said Campus Life will push students towards CUTV.

“We are really excited about the program,” she said. “It is really neat that [Cornell] is at the leading edge of technology.”

Vernon said once CUTV is in place, the next step may be to have Cornell related cable channels in the future.

Archived article by Olivia Oran
Sun Staff Writer