The best thing about the following notes is this: You don't have to do anything at all about them! Makes a change :-)
If you want to read all about the whys and wherefores, carry on. If you want to cut to the chase, skip to the "Summary" below.
Basic Access people, none of the following affects you. You might find it interesting if you are planning to purchase Advanced Access sometime though.
Following on from the changes made on 1 February 1996, the Internet Project Management Committee has continued to discuss the issue of charging. The changes have done what they were supposed to do, but further refinement is needed.
For example, what happens to people who carried over some hours on 1 February 1996, but don't buy any more during the year ending 1 February 1997? As things stand, such people could theoretically end up with a "debt" of up to 300 hours. The IPMC feels this is unacceptable - people couldn't avoid the debt, there's no practical way to recover it anyway, and such debts would be a big disincentive to stay with the Project.
Carrying over time from year to year is a big problem because it perpetuates the above difficulty. On the other hand, if no "debt" is incurred, it is possible for someone to carry over some small amount of time and spend a year using it, without paying anything more - effectively getting around the "$90 per year" requirement. Carry-over also makes it difficult to change prices fairly, because any changes have a bigger effect on people with lots of time left than on people with little time left.
The ability to make minimum payment on a pro-rata basis is proving a major hassle, with people not getting access from the dates they expect, people paying too little or too much and an increased level of error when allocating widely varying amounts of time.
In short, we need some refinements that will guarantee no "debts" at the end of the year, will get rid of the different payment amounts, will dispose of carry-over issues and will still get us $90 per user per year.
Building on the changes implemented on 1 February this year, three more steps will be taken on 1 February next year:
How the minimum usage will be calculated on 1 February 1997
To protect people who have carried over amounts from last year but do not want to buy any more time, the minimum usage amount calculated on 1 February 1997 will be the total of the following two amounts or 300 hours, whichever is the lesser:
For example, let's say you carried over one hour and purchase no more time before 1 February 1997. On 1 February 1997, you'll lose only that hour (unless you use it yourself first, of course).
Another example: You carried over one hour and purchase $45 worth (150 hours) on 1 August 1996. On 1 February 1997, you'll lose whatever portion of 151 hours that you haven't used up yourself.
A third example: You carried over 200 hours and buy another $45 worth (150 hours) on 1 August 1996. On 1 February 1997, you'll lose whatever portion of 300 hours that you haven't used yourself - any remaining time will be carried over.
One important point - this may advantage you (that is, reduce your minimum use on 1 February 1997) or it may have no effect. However, it will not disadvantage you.
How the charging system will change on 1 February 1997
On 1 February 1997, the charging system will change to a rolling payment anniversary and a fixed payment of $90.
"Fixed payment" means that people will always pay $90. This will get them 300 hours of Advanced Access time allocation, which will last for one year from their date of payment (their "anniversary" date) or until the 300 hours are used up, whichever comes first.
On 1 February 1997, everyone's first "anniversary" will be calculated from their remaining time allocation, at 25 hours per month, to the nearest day. For example, if you have 100 hours left, your "anniversary" will be set to about four months hence. Your time allocation will drop to zero on that day, unless you make a further payment before then.
We will track separate payments separately, allowing you to pay before your allocation actually runs out.
For example, lets say you pay $90 on 1 February 1997 and again on 1 August 1997. On 1 February 1998, you will lose the difference between 300 hours and the number of hours you used since 1 February 1997. On 1 August 1998 you'll lose the difference between 300 hours and the number of hours you used since 1 August 1997.
An important point
The "anniversaries" mentioned have nothing to do with the renewal period for PCUG or AUUG.
Lots of people confuse their Internet Project membership with their PCUG (or AUUG) membership. The memberships are unrelated, except that your access to the Internet Project is conditional on you remaining a member of either AUUG or PCUG.
If your membership of AUUG or PCUG lapses, your access to the Internet Project is automatically and immediately stopped, but your allocation is retained for a three month "grace" period. If you stay lapsed for three months or more, your account is removed and all unused hours are lost.