GEOG 481
Topographic Mapping with Lidar

Internet Connection and Course Data Downloads


In this course, you are going to be downloading files ranging in size from several hundred megabytes to several gigabytes. Depending on the speed of your internet connection, this may take somewhere between 10-15 minutes to a few hours. Download speeds are normally faster than upload speeds, regardless of the internet technology. In this course, download speed is most important; you will not have to upload any large files.

For example, I live in a place where there is no cable or DSL. My service provider is point-to-multipoint wireless (similar to a satellite dish) with about 5 Mbps download/1 Mbps upload. This is on the slower end of most residential service, and comparable to wireless broadband on a cellular network. It took 1 hour and 45 minutes to download a 3 GB lab data file, which is one of the largest you will encounter.

Test your internet connection speed at this Speedtest website. Most important for this course is that you have a reliable, constant internet connection even if the speeds are on the slow end. If you have a slow connection, you can download all the lab data files in advance, perhaps while you are at work during the day or during the night when you are sleeping.

Here are a couple of guidelines for planning:

  • Do not rely on public WiFi (coffee shop, airport, etc.) as a means of downloading lab data. You may be able to do course email and post on the discussion forum, but any other course work needs more robust internet.
  • Most hotel internet is too slow for downloading lab data files.
  • Check your internet service plan to see if you have limits on the amount of data you can download in one billing period. Some service providers will simply shut down when you reach the plan limit for the month. Others may charge hefty overage fees.
  • Check your internet speeds at different times of the day. Some internet services split bandwidth throughout a neighborhood, so data transfer rates may be a lot slower in the evenings when a lot of users are streaming video.

If you are overseas or traveling during the course, you are definitely going to have to plan ahead. Download all the tutorials and weekly lab data from all lesson folders as soon as possible. Skim through lab instructions and discussion assignments to note any other data downloads - occasionally we will ask you to find data on public websites, such as USGS or a state GIS data clearinghouse, as part of the learning experience in your course.

Internet problems can be minimized if you plan ahead. When a student is traveling, do not expect to make do with sketchy or only-occasional service. Sometimes travel comes up due to an emergency or unexpected event. If you have downloaded all the course data in advance, it will be a lot easier to stay on track or at least not fall terribly behind.


If you have any questions now or at any point during this week, please feel free to post them to the Software Installation and Technical Questions Discussion Forum in Canvas.