Like many other schools, the University of California at Berkeley has the twin burdens of shrinking budgets and growing demands for Internet access. As a result, it recently became one of the first campuses to cut a deal with a commercial Internet service provider so that staff and students could have an alternative route online--if they pay for it themselves. Similar concerns are facing other universities across the country.
The following chart outlines what UC Berkeley recharges its departments for dial-up modem access. University administrators estimate that it would cost three times as much to provide "flawless" service.
|Estimated monthly costs of maintaining dial-up network access for UC Berkeley|
|Modem chassis and modem cards||$36.50|
|Phone line installation||$4.75|
|Total per modem/per month||$67.75|
|x 600 modems||$40,650|
|x 12 months||$487,800|
The expense of Berkeley's dial-up access is attributable to several factors:
Berkeley chooses to use what it calls the "newest" modem technology--speeds of 28.8 kbps, rather than 14.4 kbps--its relatively high cost notwithstanding.
Maintenance: Berkeley manages banks of several hundred modems to support students, faculty, and staff. It therefore pays large sums to upgrade equipment and retain computer services staff.
Politics: Because Berkeley is a state university, the administration is required to provide equal access to all. Administrators are not in a position to decide whether certain groups or departments can have a priority service. The cost remains high because the university must provide high-quality service even to those who do not fully use the dial-up service.
For more information, please see: "Why Does a Recharge Modem Cost So Much?" by Cliff Frost, Berkeley Computing & Communications, Volume 5, No. 3 (April-May 1995). Copyright 1995, the Regents of the University of California.