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Colleges charge students for Net use

California campuses are charging for online access in a radical shift in policy.

An increasing number of California campuses are charging students for Internet access, a radical shift in school policy toward a network that was built decades ago as a haven for academics and other public uses but has evolved into an increasingly commercial medium, according to a report in the San Jose Mercury News today.

As more students and academics jam their schools' pipelines to the Internet, California colleges and universities are ending the free ride online that their users have traditionally enjoyed.

The University of California and California State University systems began contracting last fall with outside Internet service providers, such as NetCom and Sprint, to offer fee-based dial-up Net access for academics, faculty, and students, according to the report. Since then, various community colleges have made similar moves.

The deals between the schools and ISPs was intended to relieve clogged dial-up lines to campus modem pools that allow users to access the Internet remotely.

So far, the fees are still lower than regular commercial Net service and apply only to dial-up access, not on-campus connections over dedicated Internet lines. But according to UC officials, dial-up access is the fastest-growing way for connecting students to the Net, with about 60 percent of current traffic.

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