October 3, 2002

CIT May Restructure ResNet Fees

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Students face the prospect of a possible restructuring of the costs of ResNet for next year.

A focus group held on September 23 gathered feedback from students about the new ResNet billing. In an e-mail sent on September 16 obtained by the Sun, Claudia Wheatley, University communication and marketing services, stated that the changes, “will go into effect next fall” and invited students with, “an average, or above-average” Internet usage to attend the group.

Subscribers who currently pay $44.45 per month for unlimited local and external access would be charged $27 per month for unlimited local access and 1200 MB external access. Additional bandwidth will cost $0.005 per megabyte, according to focus group attendee Dale Davis ’03.

This information was also posted on the newsgroup cornell.cs.talk.

The pricing changes, while dramatically lowering the cost of local access, such as internal e-mail, would place a ceiling on external access, such as large downloads and file-sharing. Under the new policy, the break-even point would be 4690 MB. Below this quantity, students would save money with the new policy and above it they would pay more under the new plan.

“The focus group was basically to talk about billing,” Davis said. “[The policy] seems like a done deal.”

According to Davis, the limits for the megabytes were decided based on average student usage but the repercussions of the policy will not really be known, “until it actually goes in to effect.”

“The proposed fee structure will do a very good job of limiting file-sharing,” said Charles Hagedorn ’05, a participant in cornell.cs.talk.

While the policy is designed to lower the costs of increasing bandwidth to accommodate downloading, a procedure which involves buying costly fiber-optic cables, it may also decrease the amount of downloading itself.

“The marketing people said this [discouragement of file-sharing] is not what CIT intends,” Davis said.

In fact, the focus group’s main aim was to organize a billing program for the new structure, which would not violate students’ privacy by listing on their bursar bills the URLs from which they download.

If the numbers generated by the University do reflect the average student usage then, “a lot of people are going to be happy,” Davis said. However, this may seriously affect students who are considered high bandwidth consumers.

“Hitting high bandwidth users in the pocketbook will indeed be effective at reducing overall traffic,” Hagedorn said.

David Usher, chairperson of the Faculty Advisory Board on Information Technologies (FABIT) was unaware of specific pricing changes and confirmed that the issue has not been discussed by FABIT.

Other members of CIT were not available for comment.

Archived article by Leonor Guariguata