I.T. Times
Volume 5, No 1 Information Technology News of the University of California, Davis September 1996

Campus Now Has Expanded Internet Access

This summer UC Davis expanded network capacity to the Internet as a result of a new agreement coordinated by the Office of the President to serve the northern UC campuses -- Berkeley, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and Davis.

The new agreement replaced the previous contract negotiated in 1987 when UC Davis gained Internet access through the Bay Area Regional Research Network (BARRNet).

"One of the best things about the new agreement is that campus users didn't have to do anything; the switch was made and the performance of the Internet connection just became better," says Russ Hobby, Director of Information Technology's Advanced Networked and Scientific Applications.

Hobby, who worked with the Office of the President to evaluate new options for providing efficient, yet cost-effective access to the Internet, said the following points were factored into the decision:

  1. Demand for network services is skyrocketing in both public and private sectors.

  2. The number of commercial sites on the Internet now outnumbers the number of educational and research sites.

  3. Most regional networks are now operated by commercial vendors.

  4. Internet access is becoming much more expensive.

  5. The old campus connection to the Internet did not meet campus needs.

In 1987 UC Davis joined the other northern UC campuses of Berkeley, Santa Cruz and San Francisco along with Stanford and the NASA/Ames Research Center to create the regional network known as BARRNet. This network was linked to other National Science Foundation (NSF) funded regional networks through NSFNET, the national backbone interconnecting regional networks. This system of networks, based on the protocols developed for the Department of Defense's ARPANET, launched the explosion of networking that has become the Internet of today.

By 1991 the number of commercial sites on the Internet bypassed the number of research and education sites.

The original agreement between the UC campuses and BARRNet, which has been assumed by the commercial vendor BBN Planet, allowed UC Davis to connect to the Internet at a cost of $10,000 per year. The cost was kept low because the UC campuses were BARRNet hub sites, and UC personnel helped operate the network. BARRNet also helped subsidize the educational connections by charging its commercial customers a higher rate. BBN Planet now treats all customers the same, and rates would increase significantly if the old arrangement were to continue.

Under the original contract, BARRNet increased network bandwidth available to UC campuses on an as needed basis; however, BBN would not increase the bandwidth available to UC campuses without increased charges. BBN provided a bandwidth of 3 Mbps, shared between UC Davis and all other BBN Sacramento customers, which was inadequate, especially considering the growing demand on the system.

In a Request for Proposal issued this spring, the UC Office of the President requested 4 Mbps of service starting July 1, 1996, increasing to 10 Mbps by the end of the contract year, June 30, 1997.

An evaluation team met to review the proposals in May. While there were several good proposals to connect each individual campus, the costs were as high as $260,000 for UC Davis, reflecting current Internet pricing. After viewing the options, the UC evaluation team agreed that the best option for accessing the Internet is to use UCNet for individual campus connections and install a large connection to the Internet in Berkeley for the northern campuses. The UC Davis campus cost for this option is $100,000 for 1996-97. An Internet connection will be installed at either UCLA or Irvine to serve the southern campuses.

"This is a best-of-both-worlds solution," says Hobby, "because it provides individual users with the benefit of increased bandwidth to the Internet yet puts us in control of overhead associated with services and maintenance."

UC Davis began using the 10 Mbps UCNet connection for primary Internet connectivity on July 18.