I'm going to setup a system with a dial-up modem for sporadic
Internet access; a provider that charges per second online time
is used. Is there a way ppp (which is used for dialing) can log
the online time (or at least the connection's start and stop time)
so the costs can be calculated?

option a:

simply make a script (say ppp-bill.sh) that will browse through logs and search for lines indicating connection and disconnect

option b:

you may put anything to /etc/ppp/ppp.link{up,down} scripts, for example linkup could record current time, then linkdown substract it from what linkup recorded, multiply by price and you have logged how much each connection cost you
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