MDREN: USM Maryland Research and Education Network to Connect Western Maryland Campuses with High-Speed Service January 27, 2021

MDREN Partners with Virginia-Based Shenandoah Telecommunications Company

Baltimore, Md. – Shenandoah Telecommunications Company (“Shentel”) (Nasdaq: SHEN), a leading provider of fiber-optic services in the Mid-Atlantic region, has announced today that it has entered into an agreement with Maryland Research and Education Network (MDREN), a technology service provider at the University System of Maryland (USM), to connect USM campuses, including the University of Maryland, College Park flagship campus to Frostburg State University, with high-speed fiber network services. The project will give vastly improved connectivity resources to underserved and unserved students in the area who need access to remote learning.

Shentel Business will provide a unique fiber route that will pass through Berkeley Springs, WV, then through Hancock and Cumberland, finally ending at Frostburg in Maryland. The fiber installation will run along Route 40, providing new network connection opportunities for not only the USM’s western-most campus in Frostburg, but for other educational institutions and the underserved business communities throughout Western Maryland as well.

“Shentel Business’ continued expansion underscores our commitment to the state of Maryland’s businesses and organizations that are in need of more network connectivity options to fuel their growth,” said Craig Venable, Vice President of Commercial Sales, Shentel Business. “Be it health care, education, manufacturing or other sectors, our world-class fiber network will provide needed technology across the entire commercial spectrum.” [Read the full announcement at USMD Newsroom]

Networkmaine, MDOE Upgrading 301 PreK-12 Schools to Gigabit Speeds December 30, 2020

ORONO, MAINE – Networkmaine, a unit of the University of Maine System responsible for the design and operation of Maine’s research and education network (MaineREN) that delivers high-speed Internet and technology services to support education, research, public service, government and economic development throughout the state, announced today a partnership with the Maine Department of Education to upgrade network connections at preK-12 schools through the Maine School and Library Network (MSLN) project.

Internet connections at an estimated 301 preK-12 schools have or will receive upgrades as part of the project. Follow this link for a coverage map of schools receiving upgrades.

“COVID’s effects on our education systems in Maine and throughout the country are well-documented,”said Jeff Letourneau, executive director of Networkmaine. “Many schools in our state have been connected at 100 Mbps or lower as their previous use of the Internet didn’t demand any more than that amount.”

In Maine schools remote and hybrid learning models are driving the need for additional bandwidth especially at the elementary level. In order to implement safety requirements that have proven to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, many-school districts are using some form of hybrid learning where half of the student body is in the classroom and the other half participate remotely. [Read the full press release on UMS | News]

OARnet: Last Mile Enhancement Program brings tenfold increase in broadband speed to 40 Ohio colleges and universities December 21, 2020

Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) Chancellor Randy Gardner and OARnet have announced the $12.1 million Last Mile Enhancement Program to increase broadband speeds by 1,000% at 40 Ohio colleges and universities.

The award will also enable all 87 OARnet-connected colleges and universities to double their internet subscriptions for two years beginning Jan. 1, 2021. The added capacity will enable more bandwidth-intensive applications and better facilitate remote instruction.

Supported by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, the program enables OARnet to work with commercial “last mile” providers to upgrade connections to its ultra-fast 5,500-mile fiber optic backbone at each of the 40 institutions.

“COVID-19 accelerated a pre-existing trend in the expansion of remote and hybrid learning,” Chancellor Gardner said. “The Last Mile Enhancement Program enables Ohio’s faculty and instructors to continue delivering high quality academic experiences in this new environment.”

The 40 institutions include community, technical and four-year colleges and universities, both public and private, whose networks experienced unprecedented demand after the sudden shift to remote and hybrid learning models because of COVID-19. Their connections to OARnet will increase from one Gigabit per second (Gbps) or less to 10 Gbps, an improvement that could, for instance, shorten a transfer of one terabyte of data from 160 minutes to 16. It could also dramatically increase the number and quality of simultaneous student video connections to a remote classroom platform. [Read the full announcement at OARnet | Press Releases]