Bob Lowry


AUBURN -- Starting Sept. 1, the Auburn University Division of Telecommunications will offer a new dialup Internet service -- "AU Dial" -- for the use of university faculty and staff.

AU Dial, which will cost a minimum of $8 a month, will replace a free but now defunct dialup service that was eliminated on June 16.

The new service, which will not be sold to individuals, will be billed monthly to university departmental accounts, says John Helms, assistant director of telecommunications.

Two plans will be offered.

Plan 1 will cost $8 per month for 15 hours of access, with each additional minute bill at 60 cents per hour. Plan 2 will cost $12 per month for 120 hours of access, with each additional minute costing 60 cents per hour.

Helms says both plans will offer the same local access and toll-free long- distance dialup access numbers. Toll-free access usage will be billed back to departmental accounts at the rate of 10 cents per minute.

"If you are calling from a hotel while traveling on business, with toll-free access you can avoid the expense of hotel long distance bills or the hassle of using a calling card," said Helms. "The call is toll-free from the hotel and is billed back at 10 cents a minute against your user account.

Departments will not be charged an initial connection fee, said Helms, adding, "Dialup Networking comes as part of most personal computer operating systems currently on the market, so basic configuration is straightforward. All AUNet applications, which are available on CDROM and via the web, should run across an AU Dial session.

AU Dial will be owned and administered by the AU Division of Telecommunication, but some hotline support will likely be provided by the Department of University Computing, said Helms.

Hotline support to answer configuration questions and general how-to questions will only be available during business hours. As with the current university network and telephone systems, widespread outages can be reported after-hours by calling the Technology Hotline at 844-5555.

"While accounts will belong to individuals, AU Dial is not being sold to individuals," said Helms."It will be up to each department to decide who needs access and to budget the appropriate funds to cover those costs."

The old service was discontinued, said Helms, because it was being operated on outdated equipment that is not Y2K-compliant. He said the old service also did not support the use of web browsers and other graphical tools that are popular with Internet users.

Meanwhile, CampusCWIX (formerly CampusMCI), operated by Cable & Wireless USA, Inc., of Vienna, Va., has announced that it has sold its Internet accounts to Prodigy Communications, one of the nation's leading Internet service providers.

The sale, which affects many AU faculty and staff and other Internet users in the Auburn-Opelika area, was effective May 27, but it awaits final regulatory approval.

In a statement to subscribers, Cable & Wireless said Prodigy has committed to honoring CampusCWIX's current pricing plan.

Because of the pending change to Prodigy, Helms said "there is no guarantee how long the current relationship with Auburn University will exist. The AU Dial solution is being offered as a lower cost alternative to the departments."

CampusCWIX currently serves more than 500,000 customers in more than 750 U.S. Cities.

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CONTACT: Helms, 334/844- 4110.