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ISPs benefit from college cutbacks

As the number of college students populating the online world blossoms, administrators are finding that school budgets can no longer foot the bill, and ISPs are moving in to reap the benefits.

As the number of college students populating the online world blossoms, administrators are finding that school budgets can no longer foot the bill, and ISPs are moving in to reap the benefits.

In the latest example, San Jose State University today inked a deal with Pacific Bell to offer students and faculty dial up Internet access for a discounted price of $14.95 per month after the getting the first month free. (The normal rate is $19.95 per month.)

Last year, students were given free Net access in the school's library and free dial up access from their homes to the schools system. But, the university no longer has the resources with the growing amount of people going online, said Karen Mcardy, director of SJSU telecommunications department.

"Universities cannot continue to support the growth of resources that is required to support Internet access from off-campus users," said Mcardy. "We just added more 28.8-kbps modems in our library that cost us $90,000, and we can't continue to maintain that kind of investment without passing some of those costs onto the end users."

SJSU has received a positive response from students despite the fees, Mcardy said. "We anticipate that about 2,500 users will join by year-end," she said. "But the number could be even higher by the reaction we're getting on campus."

Universities and colleges are struggling to find the best solution to the budget problem. The American College and University Telecommunications Administrators organization has come up with some options. "We can't continue to provide these services at no cost so we can either provide minimal services, provide no services at all and partner with an ISP, or we can charge students for an house service," said Mcardy.

SJSU chose Pacific Bell over Netcom, Sprint, and AT&T, because, according to Mcardy, the Pacific Bell services best matched the school's needs.

The battle for the college market among ISPs is getting fierce.

Netcom is offering discounted services to college students throughout the country, including its Netcom's NetCruiser dial up software for $17.95 per month. Netcom also made a deal with faculty, staff, and students affiliated with the University of California at Berkeley. Unlimited monthly usage is priced at $5 for the first month and $14.95 thereafter.

Sprint is striking similar deals with colleges and universities, but declined to be specific.