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Internet usage, aside from regis­tration fees, will henceforth be free for all Stellenbosch Univer­sity (SU) students. On 2 December last year it was announced that SU’s annual budget for this year makes provision for the funding of internet services and no longer requires students to pay for such.

According to a press release by the IT department, the budget in­troduces a new model to provide the required funding capacity for the entire SU.

“In the past Inetkey served as gatekeeper to keep track of indi­vidual internet usage for staff and students, to facilitate the collection of the necessary funds to afford the internet service for the SU commu­nity,” it reads.

“The remaining technical functionality of Inetkey will be migrated to other mechanisms, such as a new firewall to be procured in the first half of 2020”.

According to Sonja van der Westhuizen, Media and Commu­nications Officer at IT, the Inetkey application will, for the time being, be used as a firewall service to pro­tect students from the dangers of the internet.

“The firewall has been in place for many years to protect staff and students – it’s not a new develop­ment. Think of Inetkey as your home’s door, it’s there to keep you safe from the outside world. We still need it for that purpose,” said Van der Westhuizen.

Whilst internet access is now free of charge, this does not mean the usage of such is unlimited.

According to Van der West­huizen, the streaming and use of illegal movie and series websites is prohibited by SU’s Electronic Communications Policy.

“With regard to the conditions of internet usage and disciplinary steps, the Electronic Communi­cations Policy (ECP) has been in place since the early 2000s. Each student agrees to the ECP when registering for network usage. This prohibition is extended in law and students who do use illegal streaming websites could face le­gal action from third parties,” Van der Westhuizen said.

According to her IT is frequent­ly contacted by disgruntled enter­tainment companies.

“We receive regular emails from entertainment companies warning us when material has been illegally streamed or downloaded, with the IP details, etc. Therefore, apart from being in violation of the ECP, students may face legal action from a third party when they illegally download.”

Like many other SU students, Zac Fagan, a third year BCom Actuarial Sciences student and former Dagbreek member, is very happy about the free internet access. According to Fagan, he was often charged to use academic sources and research internet websites, making it difficult to access these sources of information when Inetkey prepaid amounts were depleted.

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