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January 8, 2004

Stargate customer transfer completed

All Pitt Stargate customers should have been switched to new companies by now, following Stargate’s bankruptcy reorganization plan, according to Pitt’s director of Computing Services and Systems Development.

Stargate informed the 1,000-plus Pitt subscribers of their new companies via e-mail last month, Jinx Walton said. Subscribers were automatically transferred to either Earthlink/PeoplePC or E-xpedient, depending on the services they subscribed to, she said.

“The original arrangement with Stargate offered guaranteed access, the option of high-speed access, toll-free access numbers and the Virtual Private Network (VPN) that provided access to University restricted resources at a reduced cost,” Walton said.

Dial-up services were transferred to Earthlink/PeoplePC and high speed/DSL (digital subscriber line) services to E-xpedient.

The VPN service, which includes about 500 Pitt subscribers, will be supported by E-xpedient.

“My most important concern is that the VPN service continue without interruption,” Walton said. “Faculty, especially, need this service.”

Walton said informational letters from CSSD to Pitt Stargate subscribers went out this week. In addition, CSSD will be updating Pitt’s technology web site ( with information.

“For DSL customers, their network service and VPN service will be provided by the same company, E-xpedient,” Walton said. “For dial-up customers, the VPN service will continue to be available even though it is provided by a company other than their network service provider.”

However, as an Internet service provider (ISP), Earthlink/PeoplePC has its limitations, Walton said. “PeoplePC is kind of the no-frills version. It supports only the Windows platform and, although the company has stated that it may be possible to connect using other platforms, no support will be provided. Therefore, this is not a good choice for any users other than those with Windows machines.”

Walton offered some tips for former Stargate users who may want to look into changing ISPs. See separate story.

Prior to the deal with Stargate, Pitt users could get remote access only through the University’s 800-modem pool, which drew complaints for being backed up or too slow. The modem pool continues to be available for Pitt users desiring remote Internet access, Walton said.

Over the next few months, CSSD will be building and maintaining an internalweb-based solution for Pitt VPN users, whereby access to restricted files will be provided by authentication through the Pitt portal, eliminating the need for an ISP for VPN access. “This requires a significant investment in hardware and support,” Walton said. “This service will be available by this fall at the latest.”

Stargate, a Strip District-based company founded in 1994, had been Pitt’s exclusive Internet service provider since the University signed a three-year deal with the company in February 2001. But the company, some $20 million in debt, filed for bankruptcy in April 2003, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Erie approved the company’s Chapter 11 re-organization plan last October.

—Peter Hart                      

Filed under: Feature,Volume 36 Issue 9

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