Cornell U. will begin a monitoring system for its computer network and will charge incrementally for “irrational consumption” of bandwidth:
- Cornell’s costs for providing Internet services — currently about $1.4-million a year — are going up by more than 40 percent annually, and the university says it had to do something to moderate that spending, or at least find a fairer way to recover its expenses. Too many users have found an enterprising way to avoid paying their full share of the network’s cost, says R. David Vernon, director of information-technology architecture.
The new billing system, which Cornell expects to begin using July 1, is more equitable than the one it replaces, officials say; it is also more complicated. The new system incorporates data collected from network-router logs. The logs provide an irrefutable record of which departments and users are consuming the most Internet bandwidth.
Although charging by volume is not a brand-new idea, few if any colleges have creating billing systems to do that, says Mark A. Luker, a vice president of the education-technology consortium Educause. Typically, colleges bill departments for network use by how many ports they use, he says. “Ports” are the wall jacks where users plug their computers into the network. Students in dormitories usually pay a fixed fee for use of the network.
Cornell has devoted a considerable amount of effort to developing new charge-back methods and related policies, all aimed at slowing down its rising costs for Internet bandwidth, Mr. Vernon says. The problem of sharply rising bandwidth consumption is especially acute at Cornell, which pays more than some other institutions for Internet bandwidth because of its distance from Nysernet, the New York State Education and Research Network, in Syracuse, where it connects to the Internet.
….Charges for students will differ slightly. They will each be charged a combined port-and-infrastructure fee of $26.35 a month for nine months. A $4-a-month Internet-use fee will be included in their room rates. The same fees for Internet use above 2 gigabytes per month will apply.
By setting the threshold at 2 gigabytes, Cornell officials say that 90 percent of the IP numbers on campus will escape usage charges.
….At Cornell, the single largest use of the Internet is for sending outbound KaZaA files. KaZaA is a program used mainly for sharing music and video files. Last year, users sent more than 100,000 gigabytes worth of KaZaA files from Cornell’s network.
Mr. Vernon says the new billing system will help students and others understand the costs associated with such “extreme use” of the Internet — although in some cases, he says, students are unaware that their computers are being used for KaZaA exchanges. [The Chronicle of Higher Education]
This is an interim step that many large networks – especially at colleges and universities – will take to force awareness of bandwidth among their users, but in the not too distant future, bandwidth will be almost unlimited.