The University Record, October 30, 1995

ITD dial-in service experiences growing pains, increased demand

From the Information Technology Division

 Have you dialed in to the University's computer system only to receive a busy signal? If you have, you're not alone.

"We recognize how difficult it has been for users to get their work done remotely, and we apologize for the inconvenience experienced," said Kitty Bridges, director of Product Development for Information Technology Division. "I'd like to assure the entire University community that we are working hard to eliminate the busy signals that cause frustration. We have always had many users of the dial-in service at U-M, but demand for this service has grown exponentially."

The demand for dial-in services this term at the U-M has been extremely high and continues to increase at an unprecedented rate. Commercial online services also have experienced increased use of their services. Locally, this extraordinary demand has overwhelmed the University's existing dial-in resources during peak evening hours.

Recent data shows that more people in Michigan than ever before are using dial-in services. Whenever anyone dials in to the University's computer network, his or her modem connects to one of the modems in the U-M modem pool. Our modem pool is the busiest in the state. Dial-in activity to the Ann Arbor and Flint campuses accounts for almost 60 percent of the state's network traffic.

Based on that data, an additional 200 high-speed modems were ordered to improve dial-in accessibility. Half will be added between mid-October and early November. The other 100 will be added in late November and early December. By year's end, the U-M modem pool will increase to 718 units.

Adding modems isn't a quick process: it takes between 60 to 90 days to set up a new dial-in line, according to Larry Gauthier, co-director of ITD's Operations Management unit. This includes the time necessary for Ameritech to install a telephone line and also the time required to order, receive and install modems and additional Network Access Servers.

Because dial-in usage continues to grow, ITD plans to order many more modems and add them to the U-M modem pool during the winter term. When these modems are online, U-M will have a better ratio of users to modems than many commercial networking services have, says Andy Palms, ITD's Product Area Manager for Network Services and Sites.

"The ITD staff is dedicated to providing the U-M community with dial-in services that are affordable, available and reliable," adds Bridges. "We will keep monitoring demand and will take the steps needed to improve accessibility and decrease the chances of receiving a frustrating busy signal."