Information Services Division


Halls Wi-Fi Bandwidth Contract

What is bandwidth?

Ever wondered why it can take some time for a web page to load or for a file to download? Well, it’s all to do with bandwidth. It’s a bit like a pipe, and data can be likened to water through the pipe. Reducing the size of the pipe reduces the flow of water – or in this example - the speed at which data flows to and from your computer.

In halls of residence, to ensure that every user has a fair and equal use of what is available, we have applied a bandwidth contract; so that the network activities of one user doesn’t hinder, or slow down, the activities of others. The contract applies to both the wired and wireless service.

So, what is the bandwidth contract?

The following is a maximum and not a guarantee in Halls:

  • Download speed: 16Mbps (Megabits per second). Download is when you pull data from the internet to your device (e.g. web browsing, downloading, BBC iPlayer video streaming, Skype Voice/ Video call).
  • Upload – 2Mbps (Megabits per second). Uploading is when you push data onto the internet from your device (e.g. sharing photos on Facebook, Peer-to-Peer [P2P], Skype Voice/ Video call).

This bandwidth contract is more than sufficient for common activities. Some activities consume more bandwidth than others and some are symmetric (i.e. a Skype Voice/ Video Call consumes both download and upload bandwidth).

Therefore, if you have a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) application running this may swallow up your 2Mbps upload bandwidth and render other applications unusable. So you may find your neighbour can make a Skype call but you cannot.

Be aware that downloading and sharing out copyright material is against both copyright law and the UCL Computing Regulations. If a complaint of copyright infringement is received, the user will be blocked from the network until the material has been removed. Repeat offenders will be referred to the Dean of Students.

Typical bandwidth usage requirements

  • Web - 0.5 Megabit per second (Mbps)
  • Audio - 1 Mbps
  • On-demand or Streaming Video - 2-4 Mbps
  • Printing 1 Mbps
  • File Sharing - 2-8 Mbps

Is there any difference between Wireless and Wired?

Yes. Where wireless is offered, the bandwidth contract is per user (i.e. all devices signed in with the same ucxxzano@ucl.ac.uk account share a bandwidth contract). Where wired is offered, the bandwidth contract is per device.


Before contacting the ISD IT Services you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are you trying to do?
  • What other application do you have running (e.g. do you have a P2P application running, a file download, BBC iPlayer)?
  • If using Wireless, do you have multiple devices connected? If so, what applications are running on those other devices?
  • If using Wireless, have you referred to the Wi-Fi troubleshooting page for solutions to common problems?
  • Have you run a speed test. You would expect to achieve approximately 14-16Mbps Download and 1-2Mbps Upload. This may help to identify if it is an issue with UCL or provider of the service you are trying to connect to.

Still having problems?

If you continue to experience problems, please contact the ISD IT Services and ensure you can answer the following:

  • Are you using Wireless or Wired?
  • Is there a pattern to your issue (e.g. time of day, application, activity)?