KanREN: Kansas’ Internet Pioneer

KanREN, the Kansas Research and Education Network, brought the Internet to Kansas. And the non-profit consortium of colleges, universities, community colleges, school districts, public libraries and other community anchor institutions continues to provide critical, world-class broadband infrastructure and innovation to the Kansas research and education community. Across the state 442 institutions are served by the KanREN network which includes more than 185,000 users at its 37 member organizations.

Member-Focused Structure

Founded in 1992 with funding provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF), KanREN quickly transitioned to its current, member-focused business and government model. Members pay exactly what it costs to deliver services. All members have the opportunity to vote on major resolutions, including rate and fee structure changes. Because all decisions are fully vetted and debated among members, KanREN’s services never lose their fiscal responsibility and member focus.

Two Decades of Technology Leadership

KanREN has consistently been a national leader in the deployment of broadband technologies. Examples range from bleeding-edge T1 capability back in 1993 to advanced Quality of Service in 2001, production IPv6 deployment in 2004 and advanced BGP features in 2010. And KanREN will connect its members to the new, 100Gbps national Unified Community Anchor Network (UCAN) as soon as UCAN is available, helping to meet state and national broadband goals.

10Gbps Upgrade Expands Capacity by 500%

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the University of Kansas (KU), Kansas State (KSU) and Wichita State University (WSU) $1.176 million to upgrade KanREN’s backbone ring to 10Gbps. Recently completed, the upgrade increased KanREN’s backbone capacity by 500%, vastly enhancing research opportunities within Kansas and beyond its borders by enabling the exchange and analysis of much larger data sets.

“The NSF EPSCoR-funded ‘Prairie Light’ 10 Gbps upgrade to KanREN is a foundational piece for a Kansas Science Commons on which researchers at institutions of higher education can build stronger research collaborations through broader sharing of sophisticated instruments and computing resources. Students

will learn in an environment rich with tools and expertise,” said Donald F. “Rick” McMullen, director and senior scientist for research computing at KU. “This next-generation research network will enable activities that maximize national and state investments in computing infrastructure at individual campuses by making them easier to share and to build into distributed research collaborations.”

Supporting Broad Range of Research

Specific research projects that will benefit from the recent KanREN upgrade include:

  • Ecological Forecasting in the Great Plains, a collaboration KU and KSU
  • The cyberCommons for Ecological Research, a NSF-funded collaborative project between KU, KSU, the University of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State University
  • Climate Change and Energy: Basic Science, Impacts, and Mitigation, the newly funded initiative that consists of a collaboration among four Kansas universities— KU, KSU, WSU and Haskell Indian Nations University—the economic growth organization Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation and several private sector companies
  • Fundamental network research through an NSF GENI collaboration between two universities in Kansas and other member institutions in the Great Plains Network.
For more information on KanREN:


The Quilt Circle article on KanREN’s ‘Praire Light’ project, p. 7 at: