Off-Campus Modem Access Will Be Maintained but Not Upgraded

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University employees and students seeking fast,
convenient access to the WSU computer network from off the campus are encouraged to obtain
their own account with an Internet Service Provider or ISP, WSU officials say.
The university is continuing to make Internet access on the campus a high priority, but has
made off-campus access through the so-called “modem pool” a lower priority, says Douglas
Baker, vice provost for academic affairs.
“We are proud of WSU’s reputation for excellence in use of the Internet in teaching and
research, and remain committed to high-quality Internet access in our offices, classrooms,
libraries, research facilities, computer labs and residence halls,” Baker said.
“However, we have decided to de-emphasize investments in off-campus access to the
Internet and our data network via modems.”
A modem, or modulator/demodulator, is the device that allows computers to communicate
over telephone lines.
Baker said university leaders have accepted the recommendation of the University Advising
Committee on Computing and Telecommunications to maintain the current system of 348 dial-up
modems, but not expand their number or purchase new, faster models. The current modems,
located in Pullman, Spokane, the Tri-Cities and Vancouver, operate at 33,600 baud. Upgrading the
modem pool was expected to cost approximately $500,000 per upgrade, with new equipment
required about every two years.
At the start of the Internet era, WSU students and employees had no local options when
they wanted to access the university’s computer networks or the Internet from home, Baker said.
The modem pool was essential.
Today, the four campus communities have many choices for Internet access, often with
faster connections than the modem pool can provide, making the new policy appropriate, he said.
Most families need their own ISP account anyway, because the modem pool is restricted to
university business.
WSU has worked with several ISPs in the Pullman area to create direct access through their
systems to WSU’s computer networks, providing fast, reliable connections.
According to Information Technology data, the modem pool can handle some 8,000 sessions a
day, while there are some 100,000 log-on attempts during a typical day during the academic year.
During the past year, WSU was connected to the high-speed Internet2 network for research
and data transfer purposes. In addition, WSU was ranked the No. 1 public university in Yahoo!
Magazine’s “most wired colleges” survey for its use of the Internet.