MCNC and Internet2 celebrate federated ID milestone with Davie County Schools February 07, 2017

The ground didn’t shake and buildings didn’t sway, but a step was taken the morning of January 30th that could well prove to be a seismic shift for InCommon, its participants, and K-14 education in the United States.

MCNC, owner and operator of the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN), registered the first K-14 Represented Constituent (RC) under the InCommon Steward Program. The Steward Program allows a regional network provider like MCNC to manage the business relationship and the identity provider for the school district or community college (which are known in this model as “Represented Constituents”).

For MCNC, this is a way to combine the growing use of cloud services by K-12 schools and community colleges, with the security and convenience of single sign-on offered by federated identities. Teachers, staff, and students can use their school credentials to sign in to various resources, including cloud and other external services, and not have to create a login with each service. This has many advantages, including convenience for individuals, lower support costs for MCNC and the K-12 district or community college, and much easier integration with new services.

Single sign-on is particularly attractive for school districts that have “Early College” and “Middle College” programs with nearby community colleges. Colleges and universities that collaborate with K-12 school districts, or perhaps have a K-12 component to an NSF grant, will find it easier for their colleagues to gain access to collaboration tools and services.

Monday morning, Jan. 30, MCNC onboarded Davie County Schools in North Carolina, which became the first Represented Constituent to appear in the InCommon trust registry and the first entity onboarded and vetted by a Steward. For efficiency, Stewards assume some of InCommon’s onboarding responsibilities, as, in many cases, these K-14 institutions already have a business relationship with the regional network provider. Here’s a graphic that shows how Stewards and Represented Constituents align with Participants in the InCommon Federation.

This is the first step in a longer journey. The proof of concept will wrap up in June, when we will review the next step towards the ultimate goal of operating a production service. We hope other regional networks will also become interested in putting a toe in the water.

But, that’s in the future. Today we celebrate this milestone in U.S. federation history.

The Quilt applauds research from WILMA project January 24, 2017


The Quello Center at Michigan State University, with the leadership of Quilt member Merit and working in collaboration with five other non-profit research and education networks from The Quilt member community, have released findings for wireless solutions to better connect communities and institutions in a new report: Wireless Innovation for Last Mile Access, or WILMA.

The Quello Center at Michigan State University undertook a six-month project for research and education networks (RENs) to examine wireless solutions for last-mile access to broadband Internet services. The initiative sought to support research on wireless solutions for the last mile as a means to better connect communities and institutions. The project was titled Wireless Innovation for Last Mile Access, or WILMA.

WILMA was led by Quilt member Merit, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, working in collaboration with five other non-profit research and education networks from The Quilt member community. Joanna Young, former CIO and Vice President of Michigan State University, and Merit President and CEO Joseph Sawasky were instrumental in engaging the Quello Center to support this research.

“We were delighted to continue the traditions of collaboration and innovation, by working with several sister Quilt R&E networks and MSU’s Quello Center, studying the potential of advanced wireless networks for difficult last-mile and mobility applications,” said Sawasky. “Our work covered the spectrum of regulation and business cases, and now provides a foundation of knowledge for real-world R&E applications.”

A key question facing many broadband providers as well as policymakers today is how wireless technologies can be used to best leverage fiber backbone networks and cost-effectively extend high-speed connectivity deeper into the nation’s still-underserved communities, such difficult to reach rural areas as well as underserved urban areas.  The Quello Center developed a policy-oriented analysis to foster a better understanding of the combination of spectrum resources and business approaches that could be used to achieve that goal with the non-profit research and education missions. The Quello Center’s research team combined two complementary approaches, which you can read about here.

The report has received a very favorable response and has been distributed after being released at the beginning of the year to various interviewees as well as a number of FCC staff and officials.

Don Means, Community ICT consult at and the Gigabit Libraries Network, called this work “impressive” and “covers more than only TVWS, but places a range of wireless technologies in the context of need and rural infrastructure economics as well as against the backdrop of fiber capacity.”

The research team included: Professor Bill Dutton, director of the Quello Center, led the project. Co-principals included Aleks Yankelevich, an economist, who led the spectrum analysis, and Mitch Shapiro, a telecommunications specialist, who led the case-level analyses. Additional support for the Quello team was provided by Kendall Koning, J.D., in the Department of Media and Information within MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences, and Professor Tongtong Li from MSU’s College of Engineering. Dr Li specializes in the design and implementation of 3G and 4G systems, with a focus on security.

For additional information about the project, contact us or email

The Quilt welcomes Executive Committee appointments January 23, 2017

The Quilt, a national coalition of advanced U.S. regional networks for research and education (R&E), is pleased to announced its 2017 Quilt Executive Committee. This committee provides ongoing oversight of The Quilt affairs as delegated by the full Board of Directors.

OARnet Interim Executive Director Paul Schopis will remain chairman of The Quilt’s board of directors through Dec. 31. Schopis was elected vice chairman of the board last year and stepped up to the chairman position on Oct. 1, 2016. He is the first person to serve as chairman of the executive committee twice, previously serving on The Quilt’s executive committee and elected chair of board of directors in 2008.

Schopis currently serves as the interim executive director of OARnet, as well as chief technology officer. As CTO, Schopis develops the strategy and implementation of OARnet’s optical fiber network and private cloud computing environment. Schopis led the team that designed OARnet’s network, one of the nation’s leading statewide, high-speed networks for research and education, and was involved in all phases of its creation.

New appointees and members of The Quilt Executive Committee in 2017 include Cas D’Angelo, Dave Jent, Tripti Sinha and Steve Fulkerson. Mark Johnson, previously a chairman of The Quilt, will serve as vice chairman.

The following complete this year’s Quilt Executive Committee:

  • Paul Schopis, Chief Technology Officer, OARnet (Chairman)
  • Mark Johnson, Chief Technology Strategist, MCNC (Vice Chair)
  • Amy Philipson, Executive Director, Pacific Northwest GigaPoP (Treasurer)
  • Steve Fulkerson, Executive Director, Arkansas Research Education Optical Network (Secretary)
  • John Gillispie, Executive Director, MOREnet (Chair of the CEO Round Table)
  • Jeff Letourneau, Executive Director, Networkmaine
  • Brian Remer, Chief Technology Officer at WiscNet
  • Cas D’Angelo, Executive Director, Southern Crossroads/Southern LambdaRail
  • Dave Jent, Associate Vice President of Networks and Managing Director, Indiana GigaPOP
  • Tim Lance, President and Chairman of NYSERNet
  • Tripti Sinha, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Crossroads – MAX

The Quilt facilitates collaboration among our country’s regional networks to further advance networking for research and education.  Representatives from participating organizations comprise The Quilt Board of Directors. The officers of The Quilt Executive Committee are elected from the Board of Directors after receiving nomination from their peers.

These individuals will join the other networking leaders from around the country in California in February at The Quilt 2017 Winter Member Meeting in La Jolla. Follow all conversations on social media during the Winter Member Meeting using #WMM17.


About The Quilt
The Quilt is the national coalition of advanced regional networks for research and education, representing 36 networks across the country. Participants in The Quilt provide advanced network services and applications to more than 250 universities and thousands of other educational institutions throughout the United States. Visit