Modem Pool: Growing Capacity, Growing Concern

In response to exponential growth in demand, DCCS has recently increased to 552 the number of modems available for dial-in access to PennNet and the Internet. Over 10,000 different users accessed the modem pool in the first ten days of November, and the number of connections per day (averaged over a week) has increased to 18,300 from 12,500 in mid-September and 10,100 in mid-April.

Modem services are provided by three separate pool (all requiring PennNet ID and password):

Despite the capacity increase, users may still observe busy signals at peak periods (8 p.m. to midnight, Sunday through Thursday). Since 20 modems become available each minute, on average, users are advised to keep trying if they cannot schedule work at other times (most communications software supports re-dial). In addition, we will soon expand the 28.8 pool (which is now running busier than the 14.4 pool).

A growing concern, however, is that some users "camp" on the modem lines, in some cases for hours (or days!). Such behavior could lead to imposition of monthly time quotas or modem access fees, as some other universities have done. Users are requested to hang up promptly when the modem line is not in use for academic or University business purposes.

If you are considering a modem purchase or upgrade, DCCS recommends the US Robotics line as most compatible with the pool. For e-mail and other text-oriented communication, a 14,400 bps modem is adequate and costs around $110. For Netscape and other multimedia applications, however, we recommend the 28,800 bps model, available at the Computer Connection for $220.

Finally, PennNet modem pool service has not been as reliable this semester as the Penn user community requires. (The report of a "security breach" caused by a "virus," in last week's Daily Pennsylvanian was in error, however.) We apologize for the modem performance problems, and we ask that you bear with us as we rearchitect the remote access system to accommodate the unprecedented growth in demand.

-- Daniel Updegrove,
Associate Vice Provost, ISC


Tuesday, December 5, 1995
Volume 42 Number 14

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