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University of Texas at Austin to Charge for WiFi Use

July 31, 2014

UT Austin Wifi Charge

By Cynthia Herbert :: 1:38 AM

When you work at or attend an institution of higher learning in the United States, there are a few things you can expect. Overpriced food in the student union, perhaps. Red Solo cups scattered across frat house lawns early on a Saturday morning. Dishing out extra cash to use the campus Internet connection. Wait, what?

Yes, you read that last one right. Starting this academic year at the University of Texas at Austin, it looks like all faculty, staff and students will be required to pay for Internet usage on campus.

UT Austin Students will be required to purchase a usage plan if they want to log on to the Internet from the campus network. With the exception of some computer workstations in the libraries, “students must purchase a bandwidth plan to use university networks,” according to a change made to the school’s Public Internet Access guidelines.

The price for students to get online starts at $3 per semester. This gives students 10 GB of data transfer per week. Other plans are available, up to an $8 per semester plan that provides students with 500 GB per week of data access.

For non-students on campus, a category that includes faculty, staff, and official visitors, those groups will be given a weekly bandwidth allocation. If they run out of bandwidth during the week, their Internet connection speed will slow down considerably, and they will be shifted to what the University is calling a “second-class network.”

Faculty and staff are given the option to purchase additional bandwidth tiers if needed, to get themselves off of the slower second-class level of service. Upgrade prices aren’t disclosed without a UT Austin login, however. The base bandwidth allocations for faculty and staff are as follows: Faculty – 500 GB per week, Graduate Fellows and Full Time Staff – 50 GB per week, and Part Time Staff – 10 GB per week.

As can be expected, reactions to the new Internet usage fees were less than enthusiastic, with many students chiming in on Twitter in disbelief of the additional fees they would now be responsible for.

A sampling of reactions is below: