County Council FAQ

Have a question not listed here? Ask us at eit@iastate.edu.

[Updated June 18, 2009 with new questions 16 to 23]

1.  Does my county office have to pay for the ISU/ICN T1 network?
2.  What if my county office houses a Regional Extension Education Director?
3.  When do I need to move to a local ISP or start paying for my current T1 service?
4.  What does it mean to add Virtual Private Network capability to my office?
5.  Will county staff still be able to get Net-IDs and use ISU Extension email addresses?
6.  Can my office still call the EIT Support Hotline with computer questions?
7.  Can my office still purchase computers through the university?
8.  Will EIT setup newly purchased computers for my county office?
9.  What should our expectations be for desktop support for a county office?
10. What should our expectations be for the local area network in a county office?
11. What should my expectations be for my office's connection to the Internet (wide area network)?
12. What if a county office needs to send a computer in to Extension Information Technology (EIT) for repair?
13. What is the minimum speed for an Internet connection for a county office?
14. Can I expect changes to the amount EIT charges for specific services in the future?
15. Can my office stay on the T1 network for now and make a decision to go with a local Internet Service Provider at a later date?
16. What will happen to the county S: drives after the restructuring?
17. When will my county have to make a decision about whether to continue with the T1 or contract with another service provider for Internet service?
18. What choices for Internet accessibility are available through Extension IT?
19. What is the cost of each plan?
20. Is VPN (Virtual Private Networking) a necessity for county offices?
21. Is an S: drive available through a local provider?
22. What happens to the wireless in a county office?
23. Will Extension IT still maintain backups on the S: drive?


1. Does my county office have to pay for the ISU / ICN T1 network?

No. You can contract with any local Internet Service Provider (ISP) for your office Internet connectivity. Additional information on ISP options is available, but be aware of some important tradeoffs and costs when making this decision.
  • Speeds are not guaranteed. This means that your Internet Service Provider may say that you will have download speeds “up to” 6 Megabits. However, you may or may not get these speeds. Most Internet Service Providers make no guarantees. Your current T1 connection is a private, dedictated connection to campus with speeds at 1.5 Megabits.
  • Asymmetric speeds. Most Internet Service Providers have larger download speeds than upload. For example, "up to" 6 Mbps download and "up to" 768 Kbps upload. For web browsing and mail this will generally not be an issue, but low upload limits may limit your ability to send audio or video during web conferencing and similar services.
  • The Internet is variable. All network traffic to ISU (email, web conferencing, etc) will be across the commodity Internet. This means that the amount of traffic and therefore the speed at which your data travels can vary significantly. It also means there can be delays in receiving data, for example noticeable delays in webcasts.
  • IT support and service will be more complex. With all Extension offices directly connected to ISU via private T1 lines, Extension IT was a one-stop source for assistance with all your networking problems. When you contract with a local ISP, we will be forced to refer you to them when the network problems are with their infrastructure. While we can and will help with initial troubleshooting and suggest questions to ask your ISP, ultimately they will be responsible for resolving any wide area network (WAN) connectivity problems. Consequently there may be more calls needed and more people involved when network problems occur.
  • Virtual private networking is required for access to many ISU services. In addition to the recurring cost for Internet connectivity paid to your local ISP, your office will want to establish a virtual private network (VPN) to ISU. This will ensure that your network closely resembles what you have currently, providing support staff with remote access to troubleshoot and resolve computer problems, continuing your current printer networking and ensuring secure communications with campus. Extension IT will provide VPN capability for a $75/month fee, which covers the cost of all equipment and maintenance.
2. What if my county office houses a Regional Extension Education Director?

If you’re housing a Regional Extension Education Director, your office will continue to be connected to the ISU Extension network via a T1 connection to campus. This means that your network access and capabilities (email, web pages, speed, reliability, printers, etc.) will be unchanged from what they are currently (Spring, 2009). You will not need a Virtual Private Network or to purchase and maintain additional equipment at this time. Services that are currently for fee (computer repairs, new computer setups, etc.) will continue to be performed at the same rate for the immediate future.

3. When do I need to move to a local ISP or start paying for my current T1 service?

When you begin to pay the new Access Fee (dissolving the Partnership agreement), you will have to move to a local ISP or begin paying for your existing T1 service.  Please contact the Extension IT office (515-294-8658 or eit@iastate.edu) to help coordinate any change in service.

4. What does it mean to add Virtual Private Network capability to my office?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) provides secured, transparent access between your office and the ISU campus over the Internet. When using a local ISP, a VPN ensures that mail service, file sharing, networked printers and your current local area network configuration can remain unchanged. A VPN also allows EIT computer support staff remote access to computers to troubleshoot and resolve problems. A Virtual Private Network can be established with software from an individual PC. However, when considering an entire office, a hardware-based VPN solution will serve your purposes much better. A hardware solution will provide a transparent connectivity to ISU without requiring additional programs on workstations.

Extension IT will provide VPN capability for a $75/month fee, which covers the cost of equipment and maintenance. Note that T1-connected offices have direct, private connections and therefore do not require VPN.

5. Will county staff still be able to get Net-IDs and use ISU Extension email addresses?

Yes. The process will change somewhat. Currently CEEDs contact the Extension Finance office when new county staff are hired. This duty will likely reside with the REED going forward.

6. Can my office still call the EIT Support Hotline with computer questions?

Yes. The EIT Computer Support Hotline (515-294-1725) will continue to answer Extension staff’s computer and network questions via telephone support and remote access to your computer. This includes troubleshooting hardware and software issues, handling malware questions, etc.

7. Can my office still purchase computers through the university?

Yes. County offices will still be able to purchase computers through university purchasing agreements using county funds. We will continue to publish updated configurations for purchasing computers. You can use these configurations to purchase new computers through university channels just as you do now. The configurations are designed to provide enterprise-class machines that will last 4 to 5 years in an office environment.

8. Will EIT set up newly purchased computers for my county office?

Yes. The optional setup service will continue at the current rate of $100.00. As is currently the case, you may choose to have a newly purchased computer shipped directly to you or have it sent to EIT for setup and then shipped to you or picked up. As with all fees, we may reevaluate this amount in the future to stay aligned with structural changes and to continue to provide effective and efficient IT services.

If you choose to purchase computers outside the university purchase agreements we may or may not be able to perform setup for you. These will need to be evaluated on a case by case (vendor by vendor) basis. We strongly recommend purchasing computers that offer 4-year warranties and are considered enterprise class computers for networking.

9. What should our expectations be for desktop support for a county office?

In many ways your expectations for desktop support will not change. We will continue to provide first line support through the EIT Computer Support Hotline. How we assist you will depend on the type of network connection you have. We can provide phone support to every office. Our ability to provide remote access to your computer, automatic updates, automatically updated anti-virus software, and group policies will depend on your office having a Virtual Private Network (VPN) solution or private T1. For offices using local Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the reliability of your network connection will affect what problems you have and our ability to resolve your problems. Because we will have a more complex network and more diversity from office to office, desktop support will also become more complex.

10. What should our expectations be for the local area network in a county office?

If you contract with a local Internet Service Provider for connectivity and Extension IT for virtual private networking (or if you continue to pay for the T1 network connection) your local area network (LAN) will not change.

11. What should my expectations be for my office’s connection to the Internet (wide area network)?

If you continue to pay for a T1 line back to campus, your expectations will not change. When you have problems, call EIT. If the problem is a network outage (your computers in your office are working but you are not connecting to the Internet or back to campus), we will followup on restoring your service.

If you contract for your Internet connection through a local Internet Service Provider, you can still call EIT to help troubleshoot problems. If we determine that the problem is with your local provider, you will call them to resolve the problem.

12. What if a county office needs to send a computer in to Extension Information Technology (EIT) for repair?

Issues that can’t be resolved via the EIT Support Hotline can continue to be sent to the EIT offices for repair at the same $100.00 fee. This includes both software and hardware issues. As with all fees, we may reevaluate this amount in the future to stay aligned with structural changes and to continue to provide effective and efficient IT services.

13. What is the minimum speed for an Internet connection for a county office?

The T1 network connection provides 1.5 Megabits upload and download speed. The minimum speed for an office will depend on the size of your office (how many people are housed there and accessing the Internet) and the network applications staff use (email versus video conferencing, etc.). For a two person office, the minimum network connection would be 512 Kbps up and down. NOTE: This will be slower than the current T1 connection and may NOT be adequate depending on your needs. Larger offices will require additional bandwidth (speed). EIT can work with you to determine and evaluate your broadband options.

14. Can I expect changes to the amount EIT charges for specific services in the future?

Yes. Although no changes are currently planned (May, 2009), we continue to evaluate the services we provide and the fees for those services. If service or fee changes allow us to provide better service, reduce the number of problems or resolve problems more quickly, we will make appropriate changes.

15. Can my office stay on the T1 network for now and make a decision to go with a local Internet Service Provider at a later date?

Yes. For those months you continue with the T1 network after the partnership agreement ends, you'll be billied for the cost of the network to your county.

16. What will happen to the county S: drives after the restructuring?

The S: drive will still be available for county offices to use. Because county networks may potentially be changing (from T1 to a local Internet service provider), counties may want to consider a local shared drive to store and share data within an office. We're working on an option for a local county file server, but if you feel your county won't be able to afford a local server or don't feel that you need one, you can continue to use your current S: drive.

17. When will my county have to make a decision about whether to continue with the T1 or contract with another service provider for Internet service?

You can continue to use your current T1 connection at no additional cost until your partnership payment ends, as determined by the following:

  • Counties with current open CEED positions--July 1, 2009
  • CEED positions open due to retirement--day after retirement date
  • Shared CEED & other CEEDs--when CEED position ends
However, we will provide a 30 day grace period while EIT completes recommendations for local Internet Service and establishes a VPN solution. In July, EIT will begin to work with counties who are ready to transition to a local Internet service provider; counties with open CEED positions will be the top priority.

If you have begun researching your local options, please contact Extension IT (eit@iastate.edu) before signing a contract or agreement with a local provider. Our objectives are to provide the best service options at an affordable price, to standardize to the greatest extent possible and to ensure all offices have secure access to ISU resources/serivces. Note that some agreements could lock you into a local service for up to two years.

18. What choices for Internet accessibility are available through Extension IT?

Extension IT will continue to offer Internet connectivity through the ICN T1 network. The other option for county offices will be to contract with a local cable or DSL or other provider. EIT is working with a few statewide service providers to identify and recommend options and to assist counties in this transition. These recommendations should be finalized by July 1, 2009.

19. What is the cost of each plan?

The ICN T1 network will cost $450 or $520 depending on the location of the office. A local ISP solution will vary depending on the options, service level, speed, etc.

Additionally, staying with the current network or contracting with a local service provider, EIT will charge $75/month for network equipment and support of that equipment, including providing a VPN service to offices using a local ISP.

20. Is VPN (Virtual Private Networking) a necessity for county offices?

Technically, an office could contract with a local ISP and not contract with EIT for network equipment or VPN service. However, doing so has serious repercussions. Without VPN, a county office would not have access to remote assistance from EIT, file sharing, or automatic updates from campus. In addition, an office that does not use VPN would not have network equipment or network support from EIT and desktop support would be more complex, problems might take longer to solve, and the support that could be offered might be limited.

21. Is an S: drive available through a local provider?

No. A local Internet service provider would probably not offer this type of service.

22. What happens to the wireless in a county office?

For offices contracting with EIT for network equipment and support, wireless networking will continue to be maintained as part of the monthly fee. Offices that don't contract with EIT may inherit the existing wireless equipment (this is currently under discussion, depending on the device, etc), but will be on their own for configuration, maintenance, replacement, etc.

23. Will Extension IT still maintain backups on the S: drive?

Yes. We will continue to offer a campus-based file share for each office. However, offices using a local Internet service provider and NOT using VPN will not be able to access it. You will need to be using either the ICN T1 network or a local ISP plus VPN solution.