IT on IT

It’s hard to believe that in just about three weeks classes will be over. Students will be heading for home locations all over the world, and many faculty members will be roaming off to as many locations as will the students. How can the dispersed Williams community stay connected? The answer lies in Internet Service Providers (ISPs), who have sprung up globally to support Internet service demands. IBM’s Internet Connection Services is one of the leading such providers.

Like many of the major ISPs, IBM’s Internet Connection provides local telephone connections at hundreds of locations around the world (in locations in the United States alone and in the rest of the world). To take advantage of any ISP, you must make sure that you can reach the service with a local call.

During the last year, IBM’s service has won a number of awards for providing superior service. The industry monitors such indicators as evening-hour call success rate, 24-hour call success rate, business-hour call success rate, initial modem connect speed, and so on. IBM’s continues to win top honors relative to its competitors

Our arrangement with IBM allows members of the Williams College community can obtain Internet Services at attractive rates. The Williams rate is $4.95 for 5 hours of connect time a month and $12.95 for 50 hours. The one-time connect charge is $nn. Most of their POPs (points of presence), the locations that one dials into to get on the network, support up to 56K modems.

IBM provides MAC/OS and WIN95 client software (network dialers) for accessing their Internet services. Their WIN95 client has been excellent over the last year. Version 2 of the MAC client has finally cleared up numerous problems that the older version had. Downloading the software is simple from the IBM site (URL) for either client.

The advantage of the IBM service is its price, its quality, and its accessibility from major cities around the world. Its value diminishes substantially if a long distance call is required. Remember you must check out the access number to the ISP that you plan to use. Locally, for example, the problem is that the IBM POP is in Pittsfield, which is a local call from Williamstown, but a long distance call from North Adams. If you consider obtaining this service, check the list of available worldwide numbers at the IBM site (URL).

For those of you who would have to make long distance calls to access IBM service, check out small local ISPs. In this area I highly recommend Mindy’s in North Adams and SoverNet in Brattleboro, Vermont.

Many cable companies are introducing cable modem services for Internet access. Locally, Adelphia Cable is beginning to offer cable modem service in selected areas to its customers. The advantage of cable modem service is its high speed and continuous availability. Cable modems operate at the same speed as EphNet (10 million bits per second). Call nnn-nnnn to get more information about availability in the Adelphia service area. Cable service is being introduced in a number of cities. The costs are higher than typical dialup services.

For those of you who are about to go on the road again, to places you’ve never been, and to do things that you may never do again (thanks Willie), check out your ISP options before you leave campus while it’s convenient with high speed access to the Internet and then enjoy getting on the road again . . . while staying connected.