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Inetkey: the end is near

On Monday, 2nd December 2019, the Council of Stellenbosch University approved the budget for 2020, which introduces a new model to provide the required funding for internet capacity for the entire university. In the past, Inetkey served as gatekeeper to keep track of individual internet usage for staff and students, to facilitate collection of the necessary funds to afford the internet service for the university community.

Will Inetkey disappear completely? Not yet.

Since January, Inetkey no longer collected usage data for billing purposes. In effect, there won’t be any charge per use anymore.

However, Inetkey serves other technical purposes, apart from funding the internet service. User identification is a basic requirement to keep track of who used how much internet, but there are also some security and auditing requirements for which the university need to collect basic information about internet traffic. So, for the time being, Inetkey will still be required to access to the internet, but without any individual charges.

Some historical facts:

Internet cost charge-out used to be common practice at most SA institutions since the 90’s. Bandwidth was a scarce resource, and universities needed to manage usage carefully to avoid service collapse and other negative experiences.

From 2000 onwards, internet bandwidth gradually became more affordable, as can be seen from rate changes since 2001. The university introduced three rates per day, A, B and C, to allow discounts during off-peak times. Eventually, the rates stabilised, and as the costs dropped, the university decided to increase available capacity regularly.

In 2001 you paid R1-50 per MB (megabytes) of internet data. Over the past 18 years this decreased to the current 2c. At the same time our internet capacity increased. In 2008 total capacity was a mere 0.4 Gbps (gigabits per second) — at the moment we’re running at 1.7 Gbps and this could increase next year. 

When will Inetkey really disappear? The remaining technical functionality of Inetkey will be migrated to other mechanisms, such as a new firewall planned to be procured in the first half of 2020. We expect the final burial of Inetkey later in 2020.

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