The Internet is expensive

Mon Sep 20 10:31:05 CDT 1993

Explaining that e-mail is *expensive* in Africa, Ricardo Crust
<rcrust at ZIMBIX.UZ.ZW> asked:

>> Surely it is not too difficult to send an abstract, followed by an
>> invitation to interested people to apply for the full document.  [...]

I agree.  Let's make the most of the TAXACOM archive on James Beach's
<beach at> anonymous FTP/gopher server on

>> Every single byte which is sent or received has to be paid for -
>> either by an academic computer service or out of our research budget.

Robert Robbins <rrobbins at GDB.ORG> replied:

> At all universities in the United States with which I am familiar, all
> incoming mail is received without any per-byte charges.  Some universities
> are charging a fixed monthly fee for internet connections and others are
> charging or considering charging some kind of per-byte fee on outgoing
> mail.  [...]

Robert, you haven't understood Ricardo's problem.  You are fortunate to
live in a high-tech part of the world where competition among service
providers has allowed most (not all!) universities to negotiate flat-rate
fees for Internet connections.  But they still pay a lot for the service.

You mention universities charging researchers for access to the Internet.
At most US universities, every student and researcher pays indirectly for
this access, whether or not they use it.  This subsidizes the costs for
those researchers who do use it, and encourages use.  At others, research-
ers are charged flat-rate fees for the *luxury* of having full Internet
access in their own offices, to subsidize the cost to the university of
installing campus-wide networks.

But Ricardo Crust said his university does not charge him for his e-mail.
As is the case in most less-developed countries, the only available access
to the Internet is via a service provider that insists on charging per
byte transmitted.  And the charges are *very expensive*.  His university
is paying a *lot* of money so that Ricardo can have a subscription to
TAXACOM.  When very long articles are sent via TAXACOM, Ricardo "consumes"
an unfair amount of the university's limited ration of Internet usage.

> The logic for not charging on incoming is just to avoid the kinds of
> problems described in the posting -- the totally unpredictable nature
> of incoming volume and the inherent unfairness in charging for it.

There is nothing illogical here, this is simple economic reality.


If you have not already done so, you might want to set up a Usenet server
on your local machine, one that can receive incoming e-mail from lists and
make it available to everyone at your university at no additional charge.
This will help you to eliminate any duplicate e-mail subscriptions held at
your university, and achieve the widest possible use of the information.
Tony Travis <ajt at> can give you plenty of information about
how to do this, if you need advice.


      Una Smith      Department of Biology       smith-una at
                     Yale University
                     New Haven, CT  06511  USA

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