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The Chemnitz students network celebrates 20 years

From mega-, giga-, and terabytes: The student initiative CSN supplies 1,600 student residents on the TU campus with internet

  • The team of students of the Chemnitz Student Network is in the know of the cable clutter and secures the internet access in the student residences. Picture: Philip Knauth

For students the internet is essential, whether for the research for seminar papers, for enrollment or for the registration for exams: If the internet becomes inoperative, panic will break out. But this just does not happen thanks to the team of students from the Chemnitz Student Network (CSN). With terms such as backplane, stacking and port channel which are all Greek to many laymen, the members of the student initiative are well versed and ensure that the 1,600 student residents on the campus of TU Chemnitz are able to surf the web undisturbed.

The CSN was founded in 1994 by some residents of the Chemnitz University Student Residences, who wanted to gain from there access to the world of the World Wide Web. Therefore they laid the necessary cables by themselves. Everybody who wanted and more important had the technical know-how could `connect´ himself to the cable and so gain access to the internet. Today everything is much more professional and not as temporary as it was 20 years ago. The student residents do not need to lay the cable by themselves, but can register on the website of the CSN and afterwards use the provided internet connection. "While there is a traffic limit of ten gigabytes between 8 o`clock and 24 o`clock, until 8 o`clock is so to say `Happy Hour´, which means unlimited surfing and downloading," says Tobias Gall, who has been member of the CSN since 2013. "As a little pre-Christmas gift we have even lifted restrictions of the traffic limit in December for two weeks and all the student residents could surf without a limit."

The initiative is responsible for the preventive maintenance and modernization of the hardware, the implementing of firewalls, the website as well as the solving of any kind of technical problems. "Here at the CSN I can finally practice what has theoretically been taught in my studies. You also get direct feedback from the users and experience that our work is very useful," says Florian Schlegel, who is responsible for the administration of the CSN. The seven team members of the Chemnitz Student Network are supported by volunteers and 23 floor contact persons, who are residents of the Student Residences. They are on hand with help and advice for other residents and quickly can provide help in the case of small problems. "Everyone who is interested in technology can join us, it is not a criterion to be a computer science nerd," says Gall with a laugh and adds: "We have also physicists or electrical engineers in our team. Anyone who becomes a new member, gets a detailed instruction and can always come to us if any questions arise."

Due to the shortage of staff there was even the consideration in the CSN to handle the internet access for the student residences through the University Computer Centre (URZ). But this would mean that the reachability of the persons in power would be limited to fixed working hours and on weekends there would be no personal on the ground. Christian Gürtler, who belongs to the `veterans´ at CSN, wants to remain loyal to the team although he has finished his studies. "The CSN is fascinating me because we can work with very expensive and first-class technology, to which as a student I never would get in contact. A router sometimes sums up to 60,000 euros," he says. Two routers are positioned in the basement of the student residences. Lots of cables indicate which amount of data move here in a matter of seconds through the internet connections to allow the residents a fast internet access. Despite the shortage of staff the CSN has always picked itself up and now after all in 2014 the 20-year anniversary will be celebrated. New members are always welcome.

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(Author: Damaris Diener, Translation: Jakob Landwehr)

Katharina Thehos

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