Students create own Internet service

Matt Kuhns

When Iowa State students Darren Manning and Radwan Khalil became dissatisfied with the Internet service providers (ISPs) in Ames, they did something about it — they opened their own ISP, True Communications.

“We felt that the ISPs were not giving [customers] a fair deal,” said Khalil, senior in computer science.

Manning, who recently graduated with a degree in computer science, said other ISPs were cutting services and raising prices.

Manning said he and Khalil had considered starting their own business, and his research into ISPs indicated an opportunity in the Internet service market.

“We felt we could provide better service at a lower price,” Khalil said.

He added that the business venture with Manning also interested him because he was jobless at the time.

True Communications, located near the Ames Public Library, opened in early March, but Khalil and Manning started preparations more than five months ago.

So far, True Communications has lived up to its owners’ hopes.

“We’ve been happy with it,” Manning said about the response to their new business.

Manning said many customers have provided positive feedback about the service.

One factor in True Communications’ positive start may be its prices.

Its basic rate is $19.95 per month for unlimited Internet access, but it offers a 20 percent discount to ISU students.

Manning said True Communications’ Web site,, also sets it apart from other Ames ISPs. Customers can use the Web site to sign up for services and to manage their accounts, Manning said, adding that students must present their IDs in person to receive a discount.

True Communications also distinguishes itself by offering 10 megabytes of Web site space to customers, compared to five megabytes for other Ames ISPs, Manning said.

One customer who has used True Communications’ service since February, said he signed up because of the student discount and free setup.

“It was cheap, and it had the same or better service than all the other ones,” said Steve Adams, sophomore in finance and management information systems.

Adams said before he signed on with True Communications, he didn’t have access in his room at Kappa Sigma fraternity.

He added that since he switched services, surfing the Web is a breeze.

“I’ve never once not been able to get on. It connects as fast as all the other services,” he said. “It’s really easy to set up, and they bill it to my credit card every month.”

Adams said he saves about $9 every month through True Communications, compared with other Ames ISPs.

Eric Vymyslicky, freshman in veterinary medicine, said he currently accesses the Internet through ISU Net, another Ames ISP. He said access to ISU Net is sometimes slow, and that he might be interested in a different ISP if it offered more open lines.

Other students choose to take advantage of ISU’s campus Ethernet network.

Nick Bofferding, junior in computer engineering, said he preferred using the campus Ethernet, which costs $7 per month, because “it’s so much cheaper, and it’s unlimited hours.”

Bofferding added that the speed of connection over Ethernet is much faster, which he said is a plus because “a lot of my classes now are Web-based.”