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Education The Internet

Cornell Implementing Bandwidth Charges 525

Sabalon writes "Cornell University is planning on implementing a plan where if faculty, staff or students use more than 2GB of bandwidth a month, they will be charged for the additional bandwidth usage. The article mentions that last year over 100,000GB worth of files were sent from Cornell's network. I'm sure this is not the only school doing this or moving to this. I'm sure the conspiracy theory people will see this as a suggestion by Microsoft to stop students from getting those pesky Linux iso images. At least, according to the RIAA, CD sales around Cornell should now skyrocket :)" It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. Since students often have accounts on several different university machines, I suspect the more rebellious ones will be running an assortment of proxies and redirections to get around the restrictions.
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Cornell Implementing Bandwidth Charges

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  • by Templar ( 14386 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:33PM (#5452539) Homepage
    I agree that this is absolutely necessary, as I pay the bandwidth bills at my company and know what it's like, but they have to be careful not to stifle innovation, as the security features they will now need become more and more complicated.

    What will this do to the thousands of students that use 802.11b at the library and other campus buildings? [] Will the charges be based on MAC address? Since MAC addresses are so easy to spoof, authentication will become necessary. How can that be done easily across multiple platforms?

    The new measures might wind up costing them more than they expected. How about limiting speed by user? That would not get in the way of most legitimate research, but it would render P2P movie sharing useless.
    • by diablobynight ( 646304 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:37PM (#5452585) Journal
      and why would you want to render that useless? P2P is the reason why most people get broadband. Cornell students actually pay an added fee of 250$ per year for their network connection on top of their 30,000$ a year tuition. I say Cornell should quit bitchin and open up another OC3. lol
      • and why would you want to render that[P2P] useless?

        Because it uses prohibitive amounts of bandwidth?

        Cornell students actually pay an added fee of 250$ per year for their network connection

        That's roughly the monthly bandwidth charge for a T1; amortized over 9 months, $250 is a better price than you're likely to get for broadband anywhere else in the US.

    • by MeanMF ( 631837 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:37PM (#5452594) Homepage
      Will the charges be based on MAC address? Since MAC addresses are so easy to spoof, authentication will become necessary.

      Most recently-made switches can be set to only allow a single MAC address per port.. This would fix their problem with hubs as well as prevent MAC spoofing. Some can also be set to only allow the first MAC address that they see on a port and then lock out any new ones, making administration a little easier.
      • Why would anyone spoof a MAC address? Do you know what would happen to the sorry SOB that tried to roll out on an ethernet with a duplicated MAC? Neither MAC would work. Plus, you have to have your MAC registered somewhere for traffic to get through.

        If you "make up" a mac address you are hosed. If you duplicate someone's make you are hosed. (And I have tools that will find you out. Muhahahaha.) And what luser really understands how to flash a Mac address into an ethernet card? (Cue the enterprising shareware author, I know.)

        Credit card numbers are easy to spoof, why use them? Student ID numbers are easy to spoof...

        • Why would anyone spoof a MAC address? ... Neither MAC would work. Plus, you have to have your MAC registered somewhere for traffic to get through.

          If they start charging for bandwidth and basing it on the MAC address, you can bet there would be people cloning MAC addresses of lab computers. If they're on different subnets, duplicates are not an issue.

          And what luser really understands how to flash a Mac address into an ethernet card? (Cue the enterprising shareware author, I know.)

          Most network cards that I've used allow you to override the MAC address in the driver settings...
        • by scrod ( 136965 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @06:38PM (#5453362) Homepage
          And what luser really understands how to flash a Mac address into an ethernet card?

          Why bother flashing the EEPROM?
          ifconfig eth0 hw ether de:ea:db:ee:f0:00 is all you need. (You may need to bring the interface down first, though.) Additionally, it's not as a student couldn't wait until the target machine went into sleep mode or was shut off before spoofing its MAC address.
      • So does my Internet provider (Cable Modem) - I get around that by throwing a Linksys router between the Cable modem and the rest of my machines - instant firewall and single MAC address.
    • Here at UC Berkeley, we have a thing called AirBears ( []). Before you can use the net, you have to login through a web page, which is a proxy to kerberos authentication. This is a pretty easy to use setup, and I'm pretty sure that the login is simple enough that even something like lynx or w3m could use it. The only problem is that there is more than one wireless net access service on campus, and they don't all use the same authentication method as AirBears.
      • That looks really sweet. Is the source open for this? I looked around and didn't see it. Any similar capability out there? I've been wondering how to provide wifi to our students and avoid WEP hassles. The kerberos bit shouldn't be a problem since we could use AD. I'm assuming there is a gateway that after authentication, starts routing the packets beyond the gateway.
    • by pizza_milkshake ( 580452 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:46PM (#5452703)
      I completely disagree. While I don't necessarily support broadband restrictions, this could have interesting consequences. The most innovative solutions start happening when resources are limited.

      How will the smart kids get around this? Perhaps finding students with no computer and negotiating to let them hook up some kind of wireless solution so they can use their bandwidth as well.

      Perhaps the kids will figure out how to make it look like they're really other users in order to get their bandwidth. Ethically perhaps not great, but when the going gets tough...

      As for downloading files, perhaps this will bring out more of a community spirit -- users should pool their resources. Instead of 50 students downloading a game, 5 will download it and share it via CDRs.

      I have no doubt that the enterprising students will either find ways around (or at least optimal solutions to) the caps.

      • by Archfeld ( 6757 ) <> on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:54PM (#5452793) Journal
        or perhaps they will do like they did with the dorm phone systems when the colleges got greedy, go elsewhere...
        I remember not to long ago the universites complaining about how they were losing money on dorm phones now. They got greedy, over-charged and found out that inovation isn't dead, it just needs some prodding. Now most on-campus students use cell phones, the universities are still REQUIRED to maintain an expensive phone system and they get no money for it...well thought out plan.
      • Perhaps the kids will figure out how to make it look like they're really other users in order to get their bandwidth. Ethically perhaps not great, but when the going gets tough...

        At Georgia Tech, there is a mythical student named "George P. Burdell". He's been around forever. He's even got degrees. One quarter he was signed up for every class offered. I am sure his bandwidth would be unlimited. Does Cornell have any such demigods there?

    • Agreed, I don't know how they plan on doing this. If they use MAC addresses, those can be easily spoofed. If they use IP addresses, those are easy to get around too, but there is also the problem of roommates sharing a connection between two computers in the same room. If your roomie is a bandwidth hog, depending on how they implement this, it could be very troubling.
    • How can that be done easily across multiple platforms?

      Easily.. Our school uses a Cisco VPN [] solution to authenticate students accross the wireless network. Your MAC address is then attached to your student ID. I would imagine they could easily record bandwidth that way. And yes, they have Linux clients for this configuration :)

    • by CerebusUS ( 21051 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @06:00PM (#5452855)
      Will the charges be based on MAC address? Since MAC addresses are so easy to spoof, authentication will become necessary. How can that be done easily across multiple platforms?

      I get really really tired of people who don't read the article before posting. I had mod points and decided to write this instead.

      From the article:
      "The last -- and most debated -- charge is a new Internet-use fee, which some officials refer to as the "pay by the drink" plan. The fee will be based on the bandwidth consumption associated with a specific network address, known as an IP number. Every computer on a network has a unique IP number."

      Points off for michael as well. billing by the ip address means that in order to proxy a connection without the router seeing it, you'll have to locate the proxy on the same network and then THAT IP address will see its usage shoot up.
    • by mkldev ( 219128 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @07:58PM (#5454056) Homepage
      they have to be careful not to stifle innovation

      Good point. When I was in grad school, I ran out of my dorm room. The IT dept. grumbled a lot about it, but since it was academic research, they let it go. We were noted as serving 20 gigs in a single day on occasion, with typical being between 1 and 3.

      If they had set up a similar policy, even if they only charged 1/1000th of a cent per megabyte, it would have cost me on the order of $150/month. At that rate, it's roughly half the cost of leasing your own T1, complete with paying an ISP to service it.

      On the other end, if they charged a half cent per meg., my continuous 384 kbps would cost about as much as a full OC3.

      Put another way, this is how -not- to keep serious CS students at your university, guys....
  • Ugh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Luceo ( 552234 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:35PM (#5452547)
    And I was annoyed when WVU blocked access to Napster, hiding behind the lie that it used too much bandwidth. I knew the guys who worked in the NOC; we never used anywhere near the amount of available bandwidth.
    • Re:Ugh. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by russx2 ( 572301 )
      But available bandwidth doesn't usually mean it's 'unmetered' in terms of cost within the amount available.

    • Re:Ugh. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ayf6 ( 112477 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:52PM (#5452772) Homepage
      Probrably because the school doesnt WANT to reach their peak bandwith. They dont just get bandwith for free... They have to pay an upstream provider just like the majority of the rest of us. There are very few of use that are fortunate to be a Tier-1 provider. You school probrably - i have no idea of what their actually agreement w/ their telcom is - is that they pay for X bandwith but a rise to X' will cost them money. They have X' prime bandwith to use however they pay for X and have to pay an additional fee when they rise to X'. For example you may have a OC3/T3 line put into your company but have it capped at 25Mb/s but if you have need to rise to 45Mb/s you can call your telcom and ask them to do this. This is perhaps the reason your friend in the NOC thought you had more bandwith then you really did. "Sure joe we have and OC3 here..." but he neglects/doesnt know that its only a partial OC3.
  • by MeanMF ( 631837 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:35PM (#5452548) Homepage
    "entrepreneurial" staff and faculty members began using devices, called multiport repeaters, to plug more than one computer into a single network port.

    That sounds pretty cool - maybe I'll get one of those to replace my hub...
  • So internal (i.e. resnet) usage continues unfettered? One person downloads The Two Towers and the whole school can get it. I don't see how the cap will make a huge difference in the long run.
    • by Hiro Antagonist ( 310179 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:42PM (#5452640) Journal
      This isn't an anti-piracy move, though -- this is a move to cut down on the amount of Internet bandwidth for which the University has to pay.
      • by wcbarksdale ( 621327 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @08:06PM (#5454120)
        This is quite true. I was a member of a focus group on this idea, and they said that use of the internal campus network was consistently at about 2% of capacity. External capacity has hit 100% in the past, causing them to limit Resnet traffic to a certain percentage of capacity. They would be quite happy if file-sharing were more internal. (Happy, that is, to the extent allowed by law. Cornell complies (somewhat grudgingly) with the DMCA.)
    • I run a network for a science museum.

      We have been fighting bandwidth wars with the Staff. One nice thing about clamping down on employees is that we are sending checks to THEM, not vice verse.

      You just make sure you use a local mirror to do you linux installs, and stick to stories and still photos for pr0n. I mean, videos are nice but its the law of diminishing returns.

    • The problem is that each port will be monitored, as well as each IP. Already, the campus IT department charges prohibitive fees for attaching a hub or switch to a wall port. They want each port to be used by one and only one computer. You could probably share the movies with your roommates, but anyone else would require going through the wall jack.

      They already moniter bandwidth by both physical port and IP address. They do this to try to curb things like Code Red and the like as well as P2P.

      In my lab, I have several machines that are used only occasionally, as well as some machines that are used constantly. Unfortunately, the machines are physically separated by being in two different rooms and most of the machines are on mobile carts. I either have to rent a port for each machine (~$100 a month) or attach a switch to a wall port (~$1000/month). Our solution was to tie the rooms together with fiber, and switch away. In this way, we only have to pay for one $1000 port, but it is quite inconvenient.

      -- Len
      • One PC, running Linux or the 100/per month to attach it. Then using a second ethernet card in the machine attached to a local switch or hub connected to all your other machines. Run iptables and setup SNAT or masquarading.

        Done deal. You probably even fit their requirements, since only ONE machine is connected to their network and you are consuming only one IP address.
    • One person downloads The Two Towers and the whole school can get it. I don't see how the cap will make a huge difference in the long run.

      This is why a policy like this might be good. It won't make a huge difference for the students because they will still have The Two Towers available for download on the network, but it WILL make a huge difference for the college, who won't have to pay for downloading the movie multiple times from the internet.
  • Not that new.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ( 637314 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:35PM (#5452557) Homepage Journal
    I have a friend at Vanderbilt, he has a 200 meg per day quota. If he exceeds that quota he'll get a warning the first time, and the second time he will loose his LAN connection.

    I have heard other stories as well where they have monthly quotas and then get charged - or more often - service revoked.
    • Re:Not that new.. (Score:3, Informative)

      by ahhhmytoes ( 161969 )
      Actually, the policy [] at Vanderbilt is 1GB down, .5GB up per day. If you exceed those limits, you get capped to 64kbps each way. This policy seems to be effective in limiting abuse of bandwidth, but still allowing legitimate uses.

      I've only heard stories of service being revoked in cases of copyright infringement.
  • Are they serious? Hell, I get that much SPAM a month. But in all seriousness, this is pretty weak. Really weak in fact. that comes out to ~66MB a day.

    So much for playing games online, downloading game demos (those things are like 150-250MB a piece) and I don't think you can even download Mandrake's entire distribution (though that may be a sympton of Mandrake's bloat)...

    Hey, I guess this will make Gentoo take off :)
    • Re:2GB??! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MrLint ( 519792 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @06:01PM (#5452872) Journal
      Remeber that a 56k modem has a theoretical maximum of 17G/30 days,
  • Linux distros (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:36PM (#5452571)
    In Sherbrooke (Quebec) where I studied, they found a solution to this : a fileserver on the university network. You want a distro? Get it from there. And yes, they support more than one distro.

  • I'm sure the conspiracy theory people will see this as a suggestion by Microsoft to stop students from getting those pesky Linux iso images.

    That is the dumbest thing I've ever read. How often do you download Linux ISO images? Its one of those "Hey, if I mention Linux, maybe I'll get posted" lines. It was unneccessary (but surprising it wasn't michael, to be honest).
    • I download linux ISOs all the time. I don't use P2P filesharing utilities of the KaZaA type at all, I just use the internet for communications, business, and technical needs such as updates to my software (mostly on Gentoo) as well as downloading ISOs of distros I try out on my other boxes. I don't see how any educational facility of merit could possibly want to penalize me for researching my chosen interests.

      ah, back to yearning for times when the internet didn't have everyone and his brother on it, despite the slow download speeds if you dont live on a campus...
    • Too Too true. If anything, I carry around with me a Linuxcare bootable business card for computer fixing and (cough) other things ;-) Usually I'll do a Debian install of stable 3.0r1 and then decide to 'move on up' to testing if it's a desktop machine.

      If I was running a Linux desktop lab, I'd use debian and netboot the whole thing and DD a ftpmount'ed image across the hard drive (Assuming the hardware is standardized. All the packages and cd's would be local. And if I had all that archive, I'd also open it to local traffic to school downloads (by dual-homing of course).

      I totally agree with you that downloading 2 gigs per month every month of ISO's is bonkers. But you shouldnt have insulted "Deity Michael". He's a bonehead with infinte mod points. Still, anybody on my friends list is given +6 and anybody who's given FofF is +3. I still see the people who matter, no matter how deep in the karma ground they are. (wink)
  • Bandwidth pooling (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cybermace5 ( 446439 ) <> on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:38PM (#5452597) Homepage Journal
    Cornell students:

    Whip up a little distributed program that people can run on their machines. When a bandwidth addict runs out of their 2GB, Internet packets can be forwarded and micropayments credited, undercutting Cornell's prices! The program automatically directs packet requests to the users with the most remaining bandwidth, and you can set a maximum forward limit, to save a little Internet for yourself.

    Perfect for those students who don't use 2GB per month.
  • From a CU guy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WTarrasque ( 565620 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:39PM (#5452607)
    From observing my friends, my enemies, and even thine professors here at CU, the CAP comes because of the incredible usage. With 500kbs and up transfer speeds from Cornell to elsewhere, it was bound to happen. Geeky friends have topped 20 GB of transfers in a night, and secondary computers used solely for storage on the network at not unheard of even in the dorms at CU. Currently, students are charged over $45 dollars a month for the use of Cornell's Uplink to the internet in dorms. Next years plan shows that this cost may go down, but so will the allowed bandwidth.
  • by fandelem ( 559908 )
    "The logs provide an irrefutable record of which departments and users are consuming the most Internet bandwidth. "
    Next week's headlines: The main routers that hold all the log information were found tampered with. -k
  • linux iso's (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stanley Feinbaum ( 622232 ) <mister_feinbaum2 ... m ['otm' in gap]> on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:39PM (#5452616) Journal
    Why not order or buy a box copy of your favorite linux distro? Maybe people should actually be supporting the linux distro companies. It's a hell of a lot cheaper than buying windows XP.

    I'm sure if some people actually supported Mandrake by buying their product they wouldn't be going out of business now.
  • by Txiasaeia ( 581598 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:40PM (#5452620)
    So make a friend who doesn't use all of his/her bandwidth and leech offa that when you're at your limit.

    I mean, the toughest part about this plan is the "making friend" bit... but I'm sure that's not too tough, right? Any one?

  • But of course... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by themaddone ( 180841 )
    Of course, Cornell won't decrease the fees that students pay for their LAN access. They go from unlimited usage for X dollars per month or semester to 2 GB for the same X dollars.

    Why can't you buy a bigger pipe? Cornell could make some good money off the 'bandwidth hogs,' who would never feel it because it's paid for by either a) Mommy and Daddy or b) Financial aid anyway.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...when I went to Cornell. Then I might have spent less time playing Quake and hording mp3's, and more time on academics...
  • At my university, those few privileged enough to have unix machines in offices under their complete control often set up IPsec tunnels from their dorm machines, because the dorm net connection to the outside world is prioritized, and anything other than port 80, port 22, port 5190 (AIM) and a few others goes painfully slow. The main campus network is not on a prioritized router, and the connection between the dorm net and the main net is not either, so people use that to play nice low-latency quake. If they implement something like that here, unless they're metering at the switch to the dorm room, people will get around it.
  • "I suspect the more rebellious ones will be running an assortment of proxies and redirections to get around the restrictions."

    I suspect that the majority of the people with that kind of know-how weren't the users causing the bandwidth problems in the first place. At my school, the heaviest abusers were usually people that didn't have a clue what they were doing. For example, one girl left a file sharing program running overnight... which was set to share her whole collection by default. She was completely surprised when the IT staff called her the next day to scold her for using over 50 GB of bandwidth in a 24 hour period.

    Of course, with that in mind... I'm not sure how much the bandwidth charges will help initially given that many of the students don't know they're abusing anything. Just a little file sharing program running in the background...

  • Its about fscking time!

    The only thing funnier than people whimpering that bandwidth is a right are the folks who get mad when you don't really feel like giving your DSL line away for free through WIFI.

    On my network I have seen some very sad, sorry, and sloppy things go down. I have folks who clog up the network and don't even know it. They just install some p2p software, fill up their hard drive, and leave the software running.

    (Cue BOFH) and they are always so surprised so come in on Monday to a reformatted machine...

    • (Cue BOFH) and they are always so surprised so come in on Monday to a reformatted machine...

      Pretty stupid. This means that they will start collecting rubbish immediately again and clog up the network. A wise BOFH fills their whole harddisk with pron and deletes all p2p programs - so they can't share any more and more importantly they don't want any more.

  • Throttled bandwidth (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cjhuitt ( 466651 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:45PM (#5452670)
    The university I used to attend (and still have friends at), Iowa State University [], fairly recently had to look into something like this.

    They started off by monitoring bandwidth, and cutting anyone off who had sent more than X amount of data outside the campus network. To get your connection back, you had to go to a certain office, plead your case, etc. And then you were put on a monitored connection.

    Now, they have moved to a more tolerant policy. After a certain amount of uploads (I think it's just uploads) in a week, your connection is throttled down to a small amount. That amount is enough for simple things like page-requests for the web, but basically kills things like hosting multiplayer games.

    For the curious, they track it based on the MAC address. When you hook a computer up to the network with a MAC address that isn't in their database, the only thing you can do is view a form over the web that requests your ID and password (the same as e-mail for most users). They reset this database once a year to clear out old info. It's certainly possible to spoof to an existing address and get that person's bandwidth limit, but since this is a permanent-on network, that would lead to general badness with the routers not being sure where to send things. At least, that is what the officials say, anyway...

    A benefit of doing things this way, that I appreciated, was the ability for them to give you a "permanent" URL to use to access your machine. They mapped the DHCP address they gave you to your MAC, and allowed you to specify a hostname. Then you could access your machine from anywhere with the URL For instance (this doesn't exist anymore):
  • Sneakernet (Score:3, Funny)

    by acoustiq ( 543261 ) <> on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:45PM (#5452671) Homepage
    ...CD sales around Cornell should now skyrocket..

    You mean, of course, CD-Rs once everyone discovers the sneakernet [].

    • He may have meant CD's as well.

      Isn't it the RIAA's argument that P2P is what's killing their sales? If P2P is eliminated through something like this, shouldn't (according to the RIAA, anyway) sales go up?
  • by MasterRa ( 655503 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:45PM (#5452685) Homepage
    At my school, if you download just about anything during the day, or download anything over aboug 5 megs at full speed (about 1.5megabytes/s - its an oc3) you simply get cut off. No questions, and no getting it back.
  • by b.foster ( 543648 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:46PM (#5452693)
    Contrary to popular belief (and, yes, contrary to my own usage patterns in college), Universities provide network resources for academic uses. This usually means that they intend for those networks to be used for research (this is often the main reason the institution exists), completing assignments, and communicating with one's professors and peers. These networks are not and never have been intended to be used for entertainment purposes.

    Cornell's change is a Good Thing(tm) in that they will encourage private entities to provide metered, regulated internet service to the members of the campus community. In this way, the individual members, not the aggregate, will be responsible for paying for the proportion of resources they use. Because, after all, when everybody agrees to divide the check, most of the people at the table order lobster. It's time for the liberals at universities to drop their Ivory Tower facade and face the fact that human nature is a greedy algorithm.

    • Because, after all, when everybody agrees to divide the check, most of the people at the table order lobster

      Dude. What kind of people do you hang out with? How it usually works is that when everyone agrees to split the bill, most people orders frugally and similarly to everyone else because they don't want to look like assholes.

    • So students who live in residence, and who therefore pay for their internet access via a portion of their fees, are "stealing the university's research bandwidth" every time they do what YOU'RE DOING RIGHT NOW - accessing the internet for non-work-related purposes? I agree with charging/limiting bandwidth "hogs" (for the other users' sake), but I think your statement ignores the fact that the institution should _not_ have any more say than any ISP over how student use what is in effect their _own home connection_. It's not like they can get Rogers to come and run a cable connection to their room, after all. They have no choice of ISP's.
    • You clearly don't go to Cornell.

      But that having been said..

      There are plenty of legitimate "academic" uses for the network. Downloading Red Hat ISOs for example... all three of them and *poof* there goes your bandwidth for the month.

      But furthermore, you must not live in Ithaca. You've got two alternatives: Cornell Resnet, and Roadrunner (Cable). No DSL. And Roadrunner's support is about as shoddy as it gets. Also, not all dorms support roadrunner.

      So, no, they're "providing" (I use this term lightly, since it's not exactly a gift... we're paying a pretty penny for it) bandwidth for academic uses, but I can see several downsides to this practice.

      On the other hand, it certainly won't stop us from "stealing" MP3s / whatever, because the kid down the hall with the 200 GB collection (there's always one) is always more than happy to share. In my hall alone, there are four kids with DVD collections that would rival a blockbuster store, and two more with practically every MP3 ripped since 1998.

  • Since students often have accounts on several different university machines, I suspect the more rebellious ones will be running an assortment of proxies and redirections to get around the restrictions.
    Is this still true? Back in my university days, before the web, when all we had was this thing called the internet, and we were glad to have it! each department was an IT fiefdom. It was possible to get an account on the engineering machines, and the math dept, and the chem dept...if you had classes in those departments, or at least knew a kindly prof.

    However that was before they handed you an email addresses with your student ID. I did spend a year at a small private college that did issue every student an email address, and their IT resources were centrally controlled. I presumed individual departments didn't handle student accounts anymore since most students these days have addresses like and not so much

    Of course, we did have the advantage of shopping for the best accounts. IIRC, the math dept had fewer students so each account had 4 or 5 times the disk space as an engineering account.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:48PM (#5452716)
    It's been a while since I've been to college, but I have to wonder if students factor in network availiability when choosing colleges, and this might actually make some students attend a college other than Cornell.

    From the article it seems like the charge above 2GB is probably $1/GB (they actually said a fraction of a cent per additional MB, I'm assuming that fraction is 1/100). That's not too bad so you could still download a few ISO's and not pay a lot, but then again students don't have a lot of money to start with.

    At any rate, putting any artificial limits on bandwith for students and professors seems like a poor idea...
  • by rnturn ( 11092 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:50PM (#5452746)
    ``At least, according to the RIAA, CD sales around Cornell should now skyrocket''

    Why? Is there going to be a sudden rise in the amount of cash in college students' bank accounts when this policy takes effect? Now it has been a while since I've worked in a college town, but I didn't exactly see the local businesses lowering their prices to accomodate the relative lack of buying power that many (if not most) college students have. If anything the prices tended to be higher. It'll be interesting and/or amusing to see the RIAA attempt to place some kind of positive spin on the news that CD sales are still down. Who will they blame next?

  • Real concerns (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bfree ( 113420 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:50PM (#5452752)
    For a university, the only real concern I can imagine they should have is the cost of outgoing net connections so I would wonder what efforts they have undertaken to minimise bandwidth usage? Do they have any decent caching technology in place and if so how will bandwidth be accounted for? For example I get a new laptop and install debian over the network, forget for a moment the fact that I could probably have used an internal mirror and avoided the charging altogether. So am I charged for the 1Gb I downloaded or am I charged nothing because someone else had already primed the files into their cache? If I am the first person to install Slackware 9 am I charged with downloading 1Gb or is that 1Gb diveded by the number of people who subsequently pull it from the cache? It would be a sad state of affairs if it became the responsibility of the students to create the network required to minimse bandwidth use rather than the university themselves. I realise of course that gaming is certainly not going to be cached, but how about multicasting to save on streaming bandwidth? Also they don't appear to be going to any efforts to designate "legal" traffic which is integral to the functioning of the university/faculties/students from "leisure" traffic which is simply about quality of life. All in all I wonder if they aren't simply trying to make more money not save it.
  • In the article they talk about the bandwith tracking being router based. It sounds like they should be able to track traffic between machines on the network separately from traffic off net.

    If so, then this could be a big incentive for people to start creating on campus mirrors for large content that is often retrieved.

    Of course, this could be good or bad depending on what is being mirrored. I personally would mirror linux distros, or similiar things, but people could start mirroring movies, music and pirated software as well.
  • by shalunov ( 149369 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:51PM (#5452757) Homepage
    I've long advocated usage-based billing as the way to manage campus bandwidth (see slide 6 of `QoS Appliances Considered Harmful' [] presentation at the spring 2002 Internet2 member meeting).

    If you think you're entitled to use as much network capacity for as long as you want because you already pay tuition, compare network use to printer use. No-one expects to be able to print 10000 pages a day, day after day, on the department printer for free. This is because it is understood that each page costs something. The marginal cost of transit of each packet on Internet1 is non-zero: universities are billed for traffic.

    Internet2 traffic is a different matter: the marginal cost of transit of a packet is zero, and there's plenty of capacity to play with.

  • A View Fom Hell (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cyberia625 ( 464246 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:53PM (#5452783)
    Resnet at Cornell is, at best, a real shady business.

    The reaction from most people around here has been less than enthusiastic. You can easily burn through 2 GB of data in a month just by visiting to check game scores, or visiting any other media-heavy site. They claim it's better than the alternative (Roadrunner cable) and say that we're given options. Actually, we're not given any option if we live in the dorms. We are not allowed to have a cable internet connection installed, though most of the rooms have a cable jack installed already. Hell, we don't even get basic cable TV for free (little dongle on the cable wire apparently blocks cable...though, we did fix that problem early on in the year ;) ). It's really disappointing to see how much they've changed things in the past couple years. I'm happy to be moving off campus next year.

    We actually had wireless access points in some of the dorms (in the common areas like lounges and study lounges). They got pulled this year due to "lack of funding". It was great, some anonymous donor supplied the money for Cornell to set up wireless nodes all around campus. And now they took it away.

    As if Ithaca NY didn't suck enough, now they're trying to limit our contact with civilization. Fantastic.
  • by BTWR ( 540147 ) <americangibor3&yahoo,com> on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:53PM (#5452789) Homepage Journal
    I went to Cornell ('01) and one thing that was VERY popular were entire bootleg movies on the network neighborhoods (~650 megs each). Those would get passed around so quickly or simply viewed over the connection. My friend even got busted for having like 40 gigs of movies he was sharing with Cornell kids and FTP.

    However, I don't see Cornell's point since we were CHARGED for our internet usage, and this charge was something that was comparable, if not higher, than simply getting off the dorm LAN and splitting a cable modem with your roommate(s). Then again, if Cornell only makes it a nominal fee (more of a symbolic fine), I can see them having a claim. It'll be interesting to see how it develops.
  • Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kirby-meister ( 574952 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:56PM (#5452823)
    ...while I don't agree with this idea, can someone come up with a way for uni's to pay the bandwith bill, not raise tuitions, not charge for "extra" bandwith, and not hinder students who have legitimate reasons for that kind of bandwith at all? If so, then you can complain about this policy. After all, if the university can't pay it's bandwith bills, it can't award grants for research.
  • Costly (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vip223 ( 529662 )
    My ex-office mate at my ex-University (Monash University in Melbourne, Australia) was charged AU$1800 for excess downloads after he discovered that the software firewall was poorly configured. He proceeded to download about 30GB of TV shows and music.
    If he doesn't pay they've threatened legal action. It serves him right for abusing the service, but surely some of the blame has to be placed on the system administrator for not configuring the software firewall better. It blocked just about everything else, but not WinMX.
  • Why don't they have a full T or T3?
    is this just a way to drum up more cash?
    I say get a pair of T3's.
    Give each class of users a rank from 1 to N
    add up the total and divide the cost by that number then charge according to their level.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 06, 2003 @06:02PM (#5452893)
    My university (Griffith University) gives each undergrad student $4 of internet bandwidth for every 10 credit points they enroll in (a typical subject is 10 credit points). If they use it up they have to pay to get some more bandwidth. Research postgrad and staff have their internet usage billed to the school in which they are enrolled. To date, the schools pay for this bandwidth though I understand they are free to pass the cost onto individuals. Bandwidth is now charged at a flat rate of 2.3c (Australian) per meg, though it used to be as high as 12c/MB for international traffic.

    When you wish to access the internet you have to authenticate yourself to the gateway machine (not sure if thats the right term) between the university and the outside world so the use of proxies etc won't get you around the billing system.
  • by Proc6 ( 518858 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @06:02PM (#5452895)
    Instead of every student having full access to a half dozen OC3's or whatever they have. Why not just say "download all you want" but limit each computer to something like 128kbps (ISDN speed). That's more than enough to browse the web instantly for research, whatever else. You can even download 50 meg updates fairly quickly over 128kbps, especially considering it would be a stable connection. Then, for whatever needs that require HUGE downloads, there should be a few computers in a computer lab (that are monitored by some means), that have full OC3 access and a burner/zip whatever. Who wants to sit around with a little meter trying to judge how much bandwidth they've used, or wait till the end of the month, use it all up, crap like that?
    • Because there are plenty of people in Universities (like myself) who have ligitimate high bandwidth requirements for data download. Today I downloaded a 156Mb data file I needed to prepare a Chandra proposal, and I wouldn't have been very productive if I had to wait 2hrs and 46mins for it (at ISDN speed - 128kbit/s). In fact that would have wasted a large chunk of my day.
  • Another approach (Score:4, Informative)

    by astrashe ( 7452 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @06:03PM (#5452904) Journal
    The problem is really that most p2p software doesn't make much of an attempt to take the physical network's topology into account when it creates the virtual network of peers.

    Years ago, before napster took off, I described what was essentially an idea for streaming p2p (didn't call it that) to a friend who is a very smart networking specialist, and he was horrified. I think he had visions of chunks of video being passed from kansas to hong kong to iowa to france, etc. I was too lazy and not skilled enough to follow up on my idea, so I lost my place in history.

    But my friend's criticism was valid then, and it's valid now, and as these services become more popular, the chickens are coming home to roost.

    It seems to me that if p2p software allowed people from a specific school to look for files on each other's computers first, and to go outside of the campus only when necessary, a lot of bandwidth would be saved.

  • I can think of a lot of reasons this shouldn't happen. One post touched on it with compromised networks, but what about students who have elected to have bluetooth or 802.11 / wireless networking in their rooms or on campus.

    Admitted, the students that have this; should have secure networks, but it's hard to do that especially at such a "tech heavy" school.

    It's almost guaranteed that high bandwidth users will sniff out said networks and use others, probably not even coming close to maxxing their own account out.

    Certain enterprising students may even resort to selling their bandwidth.

    Alumni should rebel and get as many wireless accounts as they can and just claim they don't who's using what.

    Then, the issue becomes what are you allowed and not allowed to have in the privacy of your backpack / dorm room (wireless)

  • ID Theft (Score:2, Interesting)

    by The boojum ( 70419 )
    I don't think I would like this system. It seems like it might be easy to steal someone's bandwidth. There was mention of tracking by the MAC addresses. Someone could run a packetsniffer or watch for ARP broadcast on the local segment to collect Mac addresses and IP numbers. Then they could just use a card where the MAC address is software settable. (My Linksys router has this ability too, for example.) Wait for the unsuspecting victim to go off line and then set your card or router to show that MAC and IP pair. Poof! "Free" internet access for a while.

    The only way I could see to stop this would be for the university to set their switches to make the switches and their connection ports only accept traffic from specific MAC addresses. They couldn't allow any open public ports with this system. Even with that though, someone could still wait for their roommates to leave for a while, then highjack their port and steal their bandwidth while they were gone. (Even if they can't log into their roommates computer and use it that way.) Or perhaps, they might just swap in a laptop for a lab machine.

    Dunno. Just seems like it might have problems.
  • People that seem to think that is fair, tell me, at point do you know what your network usage is? A page, 50 kb, a few pic's here and there, another 1MB or 2. What about Windows downloads, like service pack updates, or software upgrades, program uploads. Does anyone really KNOW how much bandwidth that they actually use? If you don't know what you use, then how can you say whether you are near the limit or not?

    I do alot of research at work, as well as casual browsing. With every web site attempting to force gif's, mpgs, bmp, wav files on every page, not to mention configuration files, adware programs, anti-virus utilities and god knows what else is making every attempt to make sure that you GET THE FULL EXPERIENCE OF THE INTERNET, I certainly would not want to be charged on a hard set limit.

    Life is bad enough without every pion out there trying to nickel and dime every transaction and calling you bandwidth thief if you don't pay for it.

  • You all know that the big reason for the bandwidth usage is mp3's, so why is this a big deal? Linux images aren't that big, and if you're all so worried about downloading images, then take a load off your local mirror and burn the damn thing for your buddy instead of making him download it and burn him/herself. I don't even come close to using that much bandwidth unless a new Linux or Oracle or whatever comes out, and if it became and issue, I'd either shell out the cash, or find away around it.

    Bandwidth costs money. There is absolutely ZERO reason a University should be sending 100 Terabytes outbound per year unless they've got a particle accelerator running. If the little twits are using bandwidth for mp3's, make them pay. I'd much rather the University be able to afford bandwidth for cancer research or high energy physics data than spending that money so some stupid little dorm rat teeny-bopper can get the lastest Brittney Spears single.
  • Funny how this security breach at Princeton never got the media attention it deserved: []

    Mod this up as Informative...
  • Cornell machines run a kerberos client and a user logs on the same any where on campus. This is used to track printing also...
  • by aquarian ( 134728 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @06:38PM (#5453361)
    ...more like "Girls Gone Wild" DVDs...
  • Educational purposes (Score:4, Informative)

    by sydbarrett74 ( 74307 ) <> on Thursday March 06, 2003 @06:44PM (#5453426)
    I agree with those posters who say Cornell's network is solely for educational purposes. As long as Cornell provides access to outside broadband providers (cable, xDSL, FSO, wireless), there should be no problem with people putting two NIC's in their machines and dual-homing them. I mean, shit. I can pop down to CompUSA and get a 100baseT PCI NIC for about $10. Bottom line: the school is obligated to provide for students' education, but not their entertainment. Another solution is for Cornell to completely get out of the business of providing connectivity to dorms and open it up to those companies providing access to MDU's (multiple dwelling units) -- and there are plenty of those companies. That way, the economics would cease to be distorted and those who use up a resource would have to pay proportionally. It's the same argument with water. I think it's silly that many apartment complexes include unmetered water useage with the rent. This distorts the allocation of this resource, as some people will wash their SUV's daily, whilst others hardly use water at all.
  • by Fencepost ( 107992 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @07:00PM (#5453569) Journal
    Seems to me that if people start running Freenet nodes within the network, items that come down to a small number of people will then be available "free" to others within the same local network.

    Could something like this turn out to be a real boon for Freenet to get a critical mass of users in one area?

  • Idiotic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by riptalon ( 595997 ) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @07:29PM (#5453801)

    University officials sent out letters to researchers -- including those who, for example, move around large amounts of sky-telescope data -- to warn them of the billing changes. The university offered "to round off the sharp edges" for researchers who will be adversely affected.

    They better had! The assumption that high bandwidth use is all down to music filesharing and other "non-work related" activities is not necessarily well founded. I work for a different large US university and regularly need to transfer data from the other US universities or europe to analyse. I can get transfer rate of 250-750k per second depending on the time of day. This translates to very roughly 1-2 Gb per hour and I might spend all data selecting datasets and leave the transfers going all night and maybe the next day too, to get what I need. A transfer of upto 100 Gb over a couple of days followed by a month or more to analyse the data (before I need more) is not unheard of. A 2 Gb per month limit would stop my research in its tracks and there must be people at Cornell that need similar bandwidth to me, for their work.

    This sounds more like a money making scheme than a real problem. Universities usually get charged a fixed amount for their external connections, whether they use them or not. If they have maxed out their connection and everyones transfer rates are sufferring then slapping quotas on the undergrads, who don't do any work and so shouldn't need large amounts of bandwidth, is the answer. Charging users is just money grabbing since the money isn't going to go to add more bandwidth, since the demand for bandwidth will have fallen when the charges are intoduced.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972