ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Merit Network, an Internet pioneer and America’s longest-running regional research and education network, is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout 2016. To mark the milestone, Merit has launched a dynamic new web site (merit.edu) and will host a special celebration during its annual Merit Member Conference (MMC) on May 11, 2016.
Established in 1966, Merit has been at the forefront of networking technology throughout its history. Merit’s engineers created groundbreaking router technology and networking protocols to connect the mainframe systems at Michigan State University, University of Michigan, and Wayne State University. The pioneering computer network served as the foundation for what is now a statewide network in Michigan and sparked Merit’s mission of connecting organizations and building community. Merit continues to be guided by these principles as it looks to the future.
Hans-Werner Braun with Merit’s first president Eric Aupperle.
“Merit’s advanced networking foundation and its team’s spirit of innovation will help drive Michigan’s wonderful research, education and non-profit community forward for the next 50 years,” said Joseph Sawasky, Merit’s president and chief executive officer.
Merit served an instrumental role in a project that inspired the modern-day Internet. From 1987 until April 1995, Merit led a consortium to manage and re-engineer the NSFNET, the precursor to the commercial Internet and the first national high-speed network for research and education. The NSFNET connected 217 networks in July 1988 and expanded to over 50,000 by April 1995. The NSFNET backbone service connected universities, laboratories, and research centers across the country and was the major catalyst for the Internet and the explosion of computer networking around the world.
Make plans to attend Merit’s 50th Anniversary Celebration on Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest. The event will be held following the first day of the Merit Member Conference (MMC).
CENIC is pleased to announce that CENIC, with its partners—the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE), the K-12 High Speed Network (K12HSN), and the California Department of Education (CDE)—has established the world’s first 100-Gigabit per second K-12 connection. The network connection went into production on March 24th, 2016.
“Here in Orange County, we have highly innovative educators who are continually looking to leverage new educational technologies that engage students and enhance instruction in reading, writing, math, and other core subjects. This latest upgrade to our infrastructure creates faster and far more robust internet connections than ever before, enabling the expanded use of rich educational content,” said Orange County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Al Mijares. “Our new 100-Gigabit ethernet connection will directly benefit more than half a million students and 20,000-plus teachers across 27 school districts. In doing so, it reflects our commitment to the vision that Orange County students will lead the nation in college and career readiness and success.”
CENIC was an early innovator in obtaining dark fiber leases, and lighting and managing fiber infrastructure to provide broadband connectivity for its education and research members. CENIC is, therefore, proud to announce the completion of a 100Gb connection for OCDE, making it the first K-12 entity in the nation to enjoy the benefits of 100Gb connectivity, and setting the stage for many of California’s 58 counties to achieve the same levels of connectivity for their schools.
“So much of what we do as educators, to provide our students with real world learning experiences and access to resources, is dependent upon internet connectivity,” said Irvine Unified Superintendent of Schools Terry Walker, from one of the 27 school districts to benefit from this new connection. “The ability to have a 100Gb connection will provide the Irvine Unified School District with the limitless ability to dramatically transform how students learn by leveraging technology and internet bandwidth in a way that has never been possible for K-12 schools, until now. It is the equivalent of adding 20 lanes to the 5 Freeway – imagine what that would do for traffic in Southern California. Now, imagine the possibilities for education.”
Leveraging the FCC’s Second E-Rate Modernization Order, which equalizes the treatment of lit and dark fiber, CENIC has successfully implemented scalable optical infrastructure to ensure OCDE will be able to meet the needs of the students and teachers in Orange County for years to come. As demand for additional bandwidth occurs, increasing the capacity of the fiber that has been deployed will be a simple matter of adding relatively inexpensive optical components to the existing equipment.
“The bandwidth needs for our schools are increasing at a tremendous rate, and keeping up with this trend has presented some challenges. The explosive growth of computing devices and rich online learning in our schools makes this bandwidth critically important for our students,” said Dr. Todd Finnell, County Superintendent of Schools in Imperial County. “Lighting up the first 100 Gig circuit in California’s K-12 system is indicative of this growth, and the need for it came much sooner than any of us would have expected. This is a major step forward for school networking in California, and the students throughout Orange County will see immediate improvements in their level of connectivity and the many benefits it brings.”
The Orange County 100Gb dark fiber connection is the first of a number of planned 100Gb connections for K-12 sites in California. CENIC is working to complete 100Gb connections for Riverside and San Diego County Offices of Education within the next few months. An additional ten 100Gb connections for K-12 sites are included in CENIC’s consortial E-Rate filing and planned for production after July 1, 2016, coinciding with the current FCC E-Rate cycle.
“The remarkable collaboration among CDE, OCDE, CENIC, and our private sector colleagues who provided the fiber leases and the hardware is another example of the uniqueness of the CENIC community,” said CENIC President & CEO Louis Fox. “Ultimately, our students and teachers, faculty and students, and researchers and clinicians will use these new capacities in ways that we never imagine as they focus on the critical issues of our time and invent a better future for us all.”
ABOUT THE CONFERENCE
The CENIC 2016 Annual Conference: The Right Connection will bring together industry leaders in education, research and technology, and arts and culture to learn, listen, discuss and network – deepening the understanding of existing communities and discovering ways to build new communities that transcend sectors.
Join us for three days of thoughtful presentations, interactive demos, dynamic speakers, and plenty of opportunities to cultivate and strengthen relationships. The 2016 Innovations in Networking Awards will be presented as well.
The conference will be held from March 21-23, 2016 on the beautiful UC Davis campus. UC Davis has earned its stellar reputation through outstanding students and a breadth of academic programs, global leadership in sustainability, and a commitment to addressing society’s needs through innovative research and public service.