IT reduces modem pool access

Taking a dip into the WSU modem pool may be hazardous to your health.

Information Technology has reduced the number of modems able to connect at one time to the out-of-date and unreliable online system.

The decrease comes from a decision made in 1999 by the University Advisory Committee for Computing Technology. The number of modems that could be logged on simultaneously was 300. Now it is down to 120.

It was also time to update IT’s contract with local service provider Verizon, said Dave Ostrom, assistant director for communications in IT.

“We are trying to encourage people to use local ISPs for faster and more reliable service at a cheaper price for their off-campus needs,” Ostrom said.

Those who connect to their own ISPs will soon be able to hook up to a virtual private network, or VPN, that will allow better access to the WSU network.

“Many people need to look at their university versus personal usage,” Ostrom said. “It is prohibited by state ethics law to use the modem pool for things other than university business.”

Reducing the number of modem connections will save the university $100,000 per year under the new Verizon contract, Ostrom said. This money can help pay for the increased bandwidth and other new technology on campus.

Ostrom said the pool was never designed for people to be dialed in 24 hours a day. Twenty of the modems are designed for “express” use, for those who are logged on for 30 minutes at a time. The rest are designated for up to two hours. When the time limit is up, the system automatically logs off the user.

“Some people have become angry because they wanted to be able to connect to the university network for longer amounts of time for research,” Ostrom said.

But with the capabilities of the VPN, this will not be a problem.

IT also has acquired services from Aicent, a remote domestic and international service provider. Aicent can be used anywhere, but is mainly for those traveling on business who need to connect to the university’s network for researching, conferences and e-mail.

IT found that many people who traveled overseas used calling cards to connect to the Internet, not realizing how much they spent per minute. One person thought they spent 20 – 30 cents per minute, but actually spent $5 per minute. The user came home to a $6,000 bill. Aicent will help reduce this problem.

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“The hope is that many will eventually find the modem service so unreliable they will discontinue using it. One day we’ll be able to get rid of the modem pool,” Ostrom said.

“This reduction might cause some inconvenience for those who are used to it,” he added. “But overall it will move people to a more reliable connection and help the services on campus grow.”

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