Forum / Jack McCredie

Dial-In Access To the Campus Data Network

We are making significant progress in building the campus network. During the last year, Information Systems and Technology added more than 4,000 registered nodes, doubling the network's size since the end of fiscal 1992.

By the end of the current fiscal year, there will be approximately 20,000 campus connections to this resource.

As additional information resources become available online, Berkeley students, faculty, and staff are placing more importance on dial-in access to the network from their homes and remote locations.

IST is working hard to provide better services from home such as the very popular Home IP service, which provides full network capabilities for remote dial-in users.

However, our dial-in facilities are now saturated for many hours of each day, and everyone is frustrated to receive a stubborn busy signal during prime time.

To help with this situation, users should have software or a modem that enables rapid re-dial. To expand access, we are adding more modem facilities and defining two new classes of service.

IST currently maintains approximately 500 modems for general access to the campus network, about two and a half times the number of two years ago.

Of these, 256 are the modern high-speed varieties, including 96 that we added last year and 64 that came online Oct. 18.

In addition, we just installed a new set of 32 modems that provide short-period access (15 minutes maximum) to the network for people needing only a brief connection to check e-mail or send and receive a document.

The phone number for this new express service (known as the "Warhol" service, referring to Andy Warhol's "15 minutes of fame" statement) is 643-0165.

By contrast, the campus community includes approximately 45,000 people of whom we believe perhaps 50 to 75 percent have computers at home, many with modems.

To provide completely adequate home service, we would need many more modems on campus, and this number will only increase as more applications demand greater access to the network.

Clearly we don't have enough state funding to keep up with this level of demand.

High-speed modems cost Berkeley more than $800 per year per modem (phone line costs, amortized equipment costs, maintenance staff costs, and repair costs).

Since funding is a constraint, we proposed to the Campus Recharge Committee this summer a plan to recover the costs of a scalable enhanced modem service from users who are willing to pay for it.

We are not eliminating the free modems, but we understand the position of many individuals and departments who would be happy to pay if there is guaranteed access.

To meet this need, we are presently installing another bank of modems that will offer state-of-the-art service (28,800 bits per second) with guaranteed accessibility for $70 per modem per month.

These modems will have access control based on accounts requested by users of the service.

A group of users can share a set of modems; alternatively, a person may have an individual account.

This new service will allow affinity groups to share the cost and plan the level of accessibility that meets their own needs; it should be in place in November.

At the same time, we see a rapidly growing number of commercial Internet service providers that offer dial-up services at reasonable rates. An advantage of commercial services is local call access numbers throughout the Bay Area.

We believe the growing competition will keep costs reasonable and will make this strategy the most viable long-term solution to the problem of access to the network.

In addition, these Internet access services will provide direct access from your computer to the entire range of worldwide Internet services.

Our networking group is collecting information on dial-up Internet service providers in the Bay Area, including costs and local service areas.

This information is now available under the heading "Internet Service Providers WWW List," under the "Computing and Communications" section of the Berkeley Home Page of the IST World-Wide Web server (

If none of these solutions solves your access problem, I suggest an alarm clock and a cup of coffee. The modem pool has never been saturated in the morning before normal business hours.

Jack McCredie is associate vice chancellor-Information Systems and Technology


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