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  CommServ > Reference > Background > Computer Networks in Local Education

Computer Networks in Local Education

SCTA Meeting, June 26, 1996
Vince Sefcik
Communications Services
University of California, Santa Barbara

Topics

  • Commercial dial-up modem/ISDN services.
  • Frame Relay connections to local organizations.
  • Expansion of UCSB network to on-campus Residence Halls.
  • Expansion of UCSB network to UCSB apartments and off-campus housing.
  • Research into wireless networks.

Commercial Modem/ISDN Services

The UCSB Senior Officers agreed to accept a recommendation from the Campus Network Committee that specified:

  • The existing pool of 128 modems should remain at its current size and usage recharge rate (no charge).
  • Departments should be allowed to construct their own modem pools.
  • Individuals should be allowed to connect their campus computers to their telephone lines via modems to provide modem connections during hours when they are not using their computer.
  • The primary provider of additional modem services should be a commercial Internet provider.

Communications Services issued a Request For Proposal (RFP) for commercial dial-up modem and/or ISDN services on May 17. Closing date of the RFP is June 28. Service will, hopefully, be available by the end of September.

A nearly identical RFP was issued by Santa Barbara City College on the same date and closes on the same date. UCSB and SBCC will jointly evaluate responses from vendors.

Separate proposals for dial-up modems and ISDN services are requested. Vendors will be permitted to bid on either or both services. Contracts will be awarded separately for each service, if necessary.

Tiers of service:

  • Modems:
    • Entry level: 40 hours of prime time use per month.
    • Mid level: 60 hours of prime time use per month.
    • Premier level: unlimited number of hours of prime time use per month.
  • ISDN:
    • Entry level: 60 hours of prime time use per month at 64 Kbps speed.
    • Mid level: 60 hours of prime time use per month at 128 Kbps speed.
    • Premier level: unlimited hours of prime time use per month at 128 Kbps speed.

Use outside of prime time hours will not accumulate toward the monthly quota.

Term of the contract will be for one year, with 3 one-year extension options, at the University's discretion.

The RFP requires the vendor to have separate connections to the UCSB network and the Internet. Only traffic between the vendor's equipment and UCSB hosts would go over the connection to the campus. All other traffic would go directly to the Internet.

RFP requires a vendor help desk service, primarily for assisting subscribers with their connections to the vendor's service (configuring modems and client software, processing subscriptions, handling billing problems).

RFP requires at least two billing options:

  • Vendor bills subscriber at his/her home.
  • Vendor bills UCSB via a composite bill to Communications Services and we recharge a departmental or grant account.

The modem/ISDN circuits must be sized at a level such that no more than 1 out of 100 calls will receive a busy signal during the busiest time of the day (what we call a P.01 Grade of Service).

Frame Relay Connections to Local Organizations

UCSB's campus-wide IP network is interconnected to a couple of other local community networks using GTE's Frame Relay service.

Current and planned connections are to

  • Santa Barbara City College
  • Impulse Internet Services
  • Silicon Beach

We're willing to allow other organizations to share the Frame Relay service into/out of UCSB, at no charge (currently).

The Frame Relay service is configured for small bandwidth (128 Kbps). No current plans to increase the bandwidth in fiscal year 96/97 (July 1, 1996 to June 30, 1997).

The advantages of using Frame Relay service to connect local networks to UCSB is a reduction in latency and reduced load on our Internet circuit. Frame Relay service appears to be a lower cost alternative for incremental bandwidth increases than adding additional T-1 circuits to the Internet.

Expansion of UCSB Network to On-Campus Residence Halls

  • Our RESnet (Residence Halls network) has completed a pilot trial and will go into production use in the Fall of 1996.
  • RESnet will provide an Ethernet "port per bed" in all six of the on-campus Residence Halls, approximately 2,990 ports.
  • Ethernet switches and hubs in each Residence Hall are interconnected by an FDDI network.
  • RESnet FDDI network is interconnected to campus-wide FDDI network.
  • RESnet FDDI and campus-wide FDDI networks will have separate T-1 circuits to the Internet.
  • Use of the network by residents will be at no charge for the network port and bandwidth.
  • Residents will have to provide their own computer, Ethernet adapter card and software.
  • Network is being viewed as a resource to attract new students to UCSB and to campus housing (instead of off-campus housing).
  • We are concerned about how students will react to lower speed networks when they move off-campus.

Expansion of UCSB Network to UCSB Apartments and Off-Campus Housing

  • When the Residence Halls RESnet project is complete, we will begin evaluating alternatives for providing high-speed networks in the UCSB Apartments.
  • Apartments offer more challenges than Residence Halls due to a lack of centralized wiring closets and the need to cross public streets.
  • We would like to use a technology that can be migrated out into the community, into privately owned residences. Options we're considering include:
    • Cable television modems.
    • ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) service from a telephone company.
    • Hybrid fiber/coax technology.
  • We would like to evaluate these technologies in partnership with commercial organizations (such as Cox Cable and GTE), but we haven't dismissed the idea of installing campus-owned network infrastructure.
  • If we do conduct trials with commercial organizations, we will seek non-UCSB participants to get their evaluations.

Research into Wireless Networks

  • With an increasing number of students arriving on campus with computers, we're starting to discuss how these students can access campus networks and the Internet outside of the traditional locations of the Library, residences and public access computer labs.
  • We believe that faculty and students will want to carry laptop computers around with them and will want to connect their computers to a network.
  • We don't have space to build large rooms with tables and network outlets for drop in visitors to plug into a network.
  • So, we're researching the possibilities of using wireless networks which will allow people to sit on the lawn or in a classroom and still connect to a network.
  • In addition to existing commercial wireless modem services (e.g., Metricom), we'll be looking at CDPD (Cellular Digital Packet Data), private packet radio, bidirectional satellite and PCS (Personal Communications Services).
  • Today, bandwidth seems too low and cost seems too high.

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