Goodbye 14.4K, Hello 56K
UC Davis Updates Modem Pools
by Jeff van de Pol
Remote access for UC Davis students, faculty, and staff is both simpler and faster. The aging 14.4K Express Modem Pool was retired on August 27, and three faster, Year 2000-compliant modem pools are now available for campus use.
As part of a larger effort by campus leadership to improve access to the campus network, these new modems will provide up to 56K modem speeds, better Internet access, and increased campus network security.
|Modem Pool Statistics|
With the recent creation of two separate modem pools, students and staff are enjoying improved access to the UC Davis network from off campus. Preliminary statistics indicate that the use of the Staff Modem Pool is fairly consistent from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., whereas student usage peaks late in the evening (8 p.m. - 1 a.m.). The modem pool usage statistics linked below are updated every five minutes.
- Student Modem Pool statistics
- Staff Modem Pool statistics
In March, the Academic Computing Coordinating Council (AC4) listed replacing the non-compliant 14.4K modem pool as the top priority among 12 Instructional Technology Funds projects proposed by Information Technology. Based on this recommendation, campus leadership approved the expenditure of $278,000 to cover the cost of the equipment and one year of operation.
With the retirement of the 465-port Express Modem Pool, three 56K modem pools are now available. The Faculty Modem Pool remains unchanged, with 92 available ports, speeds up to 56K, and four-hour connections. Of the remaining two pools, one is dedicated to students and the other to staff. Students are able to dial into 756 ports, representing 80.3 percent of the total number of available ports and approximately 380 more ports than were available in the previous 56K Student/Staff Modem Pool. The Staff Modem Pool comes with 94 ports, a new connection number, and a new ServiceID (see table below).
|Faculty [a] Modem Pool
|Usage Trends (as of 9/30/99)|
||8 p.m. - 1 a.m.
|8 - 11 p.m.|
|~ 30 minutes
||~ 30 minutes
||~ 30 minutes|
|Average Number of
- Faculty: Members of the Academic Senate and Academic Federation
- The speed of your connection is capped at the speed of your modem (i.e., 14.4K, 28.8K, 33.3K, or 56K) and may be affected by other factors, such as the quality of your phone connection.
- SLIP/PPP: All modem pools now support SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol) and PPP (Point to Point Protocol) connections. With this type of connection, you can browse the Web, check your email using a program like Eudora, or perform file transfers.
- ServiceIDs are service permits required to access the modem pools. For more information and instructions on how to add a ServiceID to a computing account, see http://itexpress.ucdavis.edu/modems.html.
The replacement of the Express Modem Pool by September 1 was critical for two reasons: to avoid the Year 2000 (Y2K) Problem on the aging, non-compliant 14.4K Modem Pool and to reduce the impact of the high contention ratio (number of users per port) experienced by clients, especially students, accessing the Student/Staff Modem Pool. September 1 was also the deadline imposed by the UC Office of the President (UCOP) for bringing all campus computer and communications systems into Y2K compliance.
These recommendations and deadlines were remarkably accurate -- the outdated and overworked 14.4K Modem Pool suffered a massive failure and "died" on August 29, only two days after its official retirement and two days before UCOP's Y2K deadline.
Users of the new modem pools have few, if any, steps to complete to take advantage of these improvements in service. According to Kevin Rhodes, Assistant Director of Communications Resources, the ServiceID for staff members using the previous Student/Staff Modem Pool was automatically converted to the new ServiceID for the Staff-only Pool. Changing the dial-in phone number to match the corresponding modem pool is the only necessary modification for most staff.
Since October 15, the Student (IRAS) Modem Pool is no longer accepting logins from staff members. To avoid a loss of modem access, staff members who are not also registered as students should transition to the new Staff (ISTF) Modem Pool as soon as possible. Set-up instructions for the Staff Modem Pool are available for each supported platform (Macintosh and Windows 95/98) on the Web at http://itexpress.ucdavis.edu/stfmodem.html.
With a unique modem pool now serving each segment of the campus population, connecting to the campus network is expected to be much easier during the evenings, traditionally the period of heaviest usage among students.
While these changes provide welcome relief to those who previously found it impossible to connect between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m., the current remote access solution will still be insufficient to meet growing demand. A Remote Access Management Program (RAMP) report released in June 1998 indicated that a pool of 1,920 modems would be required to meet the rising demand of users seeking access to the campus network. The University currently owns and supports 942 modems.
According to Harry Matthews, chair of the AC4, "The improvements in the modem pool this year are being made possible by one-time funding allocations. There remains a challenge to develop a permanent funding mechanism that will allow UC Davis to maintain an excellent remote access service. This challenge is being addressed by AC4, AdC3 (Administrative Computing Coordinating Council), and appropriate units of the administration."