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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Modem pool now closed to non-university users

By David Nutter

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 24 - March 21, 1996

The Blacksburg Electronic Village reached another milestone, declaring local telephone access sufficiently mature to allow BEV to stand alone. There are now sufficient local Internet providers so that Virginia Tech must no longer underwrite dial-up modem service. The university will close the modem pool to non-university users.

As of March 15, the university no longer accepts non-Virginia Tech applications for modem-pool use. Current BEV subscribers will have until July 1 to affiliate with private Internet providers such as NRVnet (953-5000) or Citizen's InterNET Service (1-800-941-0426).

"We started a mini-revolution and helped grow a local cottage industry. BEV began as a research project to help a community understand the ramifications and applications of advanced communications systems. It has been an amazing success," said Andrew Cohill, BEV project director.

In less than three years, the BEV office signed up nearly 5,000 people for Internet access. More than 200 businesses in Blacksburg now advertise on the Internet, and at least 24 new businesses have started in the area to provide Internet-related services. The BEV provides more than 1,000 direct high-speed connections to apartments and offices in Blacksburg.

When BEV began in October 1993, the university was the only avenue to gain access to the Internet. Access is now locally available to BEV subscribers through private concerns such as NRVnet and Citizen's InterNET Service. Bell Atlantic recently announced plans to offer local access to the Internet in the near future.

The university's catalyzing effort results in one of the most "connected" towns in the nation. In Blacksburg, over 40 percent of the community is on the Internet directly at home or at work, and two-thirds of the town uses electronic mail.

"The first part of our experiment is finished-we sensitized the community to the possibilities of electronic information access and created a market. There are even several new local companies designing web pages. Now we need to focus on discovering new ways to use this technology to forge strong communities," said Erv Blythe. "This will also allow us to focus more time and energy on Internet education and training. It's what the community is demanding of us now."

The university will continue to support the BEV project in many other ways, including the continued support of BEV services like the community World Wide Web server (http://www.bev.net/) and administration of direct connections in apartments and offices.

About 15 percent of current users of the university modem pool are not affiliated with Virginia Tech (mostly BEV subscribers).