OARnet Hosts National Meeting Of Networking Community September 25, 2012

Gathering at Ohio State features celebration of OARnet’s 25th anniversary

A lot can happen in a quarter of a century, especially in the field of technology. This week, friends and colleagues of the Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet) are traveling here from across the country to celebrate the many achievements of the statewide networking organization on its 25th anniversary.

Jennifer Leasure

Pankaj Shah

Gov. John Kasich

OARnet is welcoming the national networking community to Ohio for The Quilt Fall Member Meeting, which will be held Sept. 11-13 at The Ohio State University (OSU). In addition to their own meeting, The Quilt members are invited to attend a special silver anniversary OARnet Member Meeting, which will be held at OSU’s Ohio Union on Sept. 11 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. The Quilt is the national coalition of advanced regional networks for research and education and provides advanced network services and applications to universities and other educational institutions.

“We’re pleased to bring together our membership in Central Ohio to help OARnet celebrate their 25>th anniversary and to recognize OARnet’s leadership and active role in the national networking community,” said Jennifer Leasure, president and CEO of The Quilt. “OARnet has a long history of working at the cutting edge to provide to their clients the most reliable and effective networking services.”

The Ohio Board of Regents (OBOR) created OARnet in 1987 through Ohio General Assembly legislation. Initially, OARnet was founded to provide Ohio researchers with network access to the high performance computing resources of the Ohio Supercomputer Center, established in Columbus earlier that year, but it quickly grew to offer a wide array of networking services, research and other resources. Today, OARnet is one of several statewide organizations operating under the umbrella of the Ohio Technology Consortium (OH-TECH), the technology arm of OBOR.

“Today, we continue to hold fast to the our driving principles of providing affordable broadband service, reducing the cost of technology through aggregate purchasing and maximizing shared services opportunities,” said Pankaj Shah, executive director of OARnet. “These principles have allowed OARnet to expand access to affordable technology, enabling research and education opportunities at colleges and universities, as well as promoting community and economic development throughout Ohio.”

There have been many landmark moments in OARnet’s history, each of which was motivated and supported by OARnet members.

This year, OARnet is building one of the first statewide 100 Gigabit per second (Gbps) networks for research, education and innovation, representing a tenfold increase in speed from the organization’s existing network backbone speed. The 100-Gbps network allows Ohio to lead in the development of next-generation business applications, which will attract new employers, enhance Ohio’s medical innovation and serve as a platform for developing new applications in large-scale scientific research.

“This [100-Gbps network] allows our research hospitals and universities to compete more successfully for the research grants that create breakthroughs in jobs,” Ohio Governor Kasich explained in his 2012 state-of-the-state address. “You did it in 1987, we are exploding its power, and it’s going to yield huge, huge benefits for people in the state of Ohio.”

Some of OARnet’s other milestone achievements since 1987 include:

  • In 2011, OARnet launched IAMOhio, a federated identity initiative that allows researchers, students, faculty and staff to access protected or licensed online resources from member institutions and third-party providers while safeguarding individual privacy.
  • In 2010, OARnet partnered with ComNet, Inc., Horizon Telcom and OneCommunity to add more than 3,600 new miles of broadband fiber throughout Ohio through $141.3 million in federal funding awarded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
  • In 2008, OARnet provided connectivity for HD videoconferencing assessments for neonatal patients. This telemedicine project enables specialists in Columbus to view distressed newborns and consult with attending physicians an hour away in Chillicothe in real-time.
  • In 2006, OARnet engineers demonstrated remote instrumentation featuring the electron microscopes at OSU’s Center for Accelerated Maturation of Materials (CAMM), accessed from Stark State College in Canton, Ohio.
  • In 2004, OARnet launched a highly scalable statewide infrastructure after acquiring 1,850 miles of “dark” optical fiber. The network has produced a 2,786 percent increase in usage by universities and a 90 percent decrease in cost to universities over a ten-year period.
  • In 2003, OARnet engineers demonstrated the Transportable Satellite Internet System by using it to broadcast live, remote educational programming during the bicentennial reenactment of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
  • In 2000, OARnet staff orchestrated the first ever distributed multi-site musical concert over the Internet at the Internet2 conference in Atlanta, GA, as barbershop quartet singers harmonized from sites in Alaska, New York, North Dakota and Texas.
  • In 1999, OARnet engineers coordinated the first of many Megaconferences, the world’s largest H.323 multipoint Internet videoconference. In 2004, they also hosted the first Megaconference Jr. for elementary and secondary school students around the world.
  • In 1999, OARnet established the Internet2 Technology Evaluation Center (ITEC-Ohio), a consortium of organizations that focus on addressing emerging academic, engineering, and industrial needs in research, education, government and commerce.
  • In 1994, OARnet collaborated with OSU to deploy the Greater Columbus Free-Net, an outreach project that provided dial-up Internet connection, email, Usenet news and web hosting for students, staff and Central Ohio non-profit agencies.
  • In 1989, OARnet deployed the Ohio Library Information System. Known today as the Ohio Library and Information Network (OhioLINK), the consortium of 88 Ohio college and university libraries, and the State Library of Ohio, serves Ohio students, faculty and researchers.
Consortium of Higher Education Groups, Microsoft and Google Launch Program to Deploy Big Bandwidth to Underserved College Communities July 20, 2012

AIR.U to Use Super Wi-Fi networks to Extend Broadband

Published: June 26, 2012

A consortium of higher education associations, public interest groups and high-tech companies today announced a partnership named AIR.U (Advanced Internet Regions) to deploy Super Wi-Fi networks to upgrade the broadband available to underserved campuses and their surrounding communities. By using unlicensed access to unused television channels (TV band “White Spaces”), universities and neighboring communities will be able to significantly expand the coverage and capacity of high-speed wireless connectivity both on and off campus.


As The Economist noted in a recent article: “Apart from easing bandwidth problems, white-space could lead to a wireless revolution even bigger than the wave of innovation unleashed over a decade ago when Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other wireless technologies embraced the unlicensed 2.4 GHz band previously reserved for microwave ovens and garage-door openers.”


The founding Higher Ed organizations collectively represent over 500 colleges and universities nationwide, and include the United Negro College Fund, the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education, and Gig.U, a consortium of 37 major universities committed to accelerating world-leading broadband connectivity and services. Founding partners also include Microsoft, Google, the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation, a think tank based in Washington D.C., the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and Declaration Networks Group, LLC, a newly created organization established to plan, deploy and operate Super Wi-Fi technologies.


AIR.U will focus on upgrading broadband offerings in those communities that, because of their educational mission, have greater than average demand but often, because of their rural or small town location, have below average broadband. The consortium’s initial goal is to plan and deploy several pilot networks in diverse university communities and create a roadmap for the rapid deployment of sustainable, next generation wireless networks as White Space equipment becomes widely available in 2013.


“Expanded broadband access has been an unaffordable hurdle in rural, underserved communities. The opportunity to acquire and leverage spectrum and broadband assets will go far in addressing the competitive disadvantage their absence created,” said Robert Rucker, Vice President for Operations & Technology at the United Negro College Fund. “This effort will enable selected institutions and all the constituents they serve to have the enhanced, sustainable capacity needed to more fully experience the information age and the ability to participate and contribute to it.”


ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl, noting the urgency of providing high-speed Internet access in rural Appalachia, welcomed the partnership. “Appalachian communities cannot afford to wait for high-speed service to be delivered to them. Partnerships like this one put existing spectrum assets to work, and as a result, more quickly provide rural communities the high-speed service they need in order to compete with the rest of the world,” Gohl stated.


Super Wi-Fi networks will transmit on much lower frequencies than today’s Wi-Fi, allowing the broadband signals to penetrate further into buildings and cover much larger areas. The idea for AIR.U arose during the Gig.U Request for Information process, in which a number of rural colleges, who were not eligible to join Gig.U, realized that their constituents needed gigabit connectivity just as much as larger research-based university communities. At the same time, New America and other respondents identified Super Wi-Fi as a powerful, low-cost and wellsuited path for providing this necessary upgrade to rural and underserved higher-ed communities.


“Colleges in rural areas will be the greatest beneficiaries of Super Wi-Fi networks because they are located in communities that often lack sufficient broadband, their needs are greater and there is typically a large number of vacant TV channels outside the biggest urban markets,” said Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Project at the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute. “This combination of factors makes them ideal candidates for utilizing Super Wi-Fi spectrum to complement existing broadband capabilities.”


“We could not be more delighted that AIR.U was born out of the Gig.U effort, which only further validates the need to upgrade the bandwidth available to communities surrounding our research universities and our colleges throughout the country,” said Blair Levin, Executive Director of Gig.U (a project of the Aspen Institute) and the Executive Director of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan. “We firmly believe this deployment of next generation broadband networks and services will be an economic tide to raise all boats.”


Last December the FCC certified the first commercial devices and geolocation database that will be needed to ensure that White Space devices operate only on vacant TV channels and do not interfere with television reception. Nationwide certifications of a variety of equipment makers and database operators are expected in the coming months.


“While California’s urban coastal areas are well-served by broadband, the state’s remote and rural regions are extremely difficult to reach without wireless technology, and many CENIC member institutions are located in these regions,” said Louis Fox, the President and CEO of CENIC. “Maintaining these institutions at the level of connectivity required for 21st century research and education is a constant challenge for CENIC,” Fox added. “Thus, deploying Wi-Fi networks that expand the coverage and capacity of high-speed connectivity for research and education communities both on and off-campus is a crucial part of the CENIC mission, and we’re delighted to take part in AIR.U.”


“With the high concentration of postsecondary institutions throughout New England, we are thrilled to be a member of the AIR.U partnership,” said Monnica Chan, Director of Policy & Research for NEBHE. “At a time when sectors like education and health are booming with innovative, disruptive technology like distance learning and tele-health, deploying Wi-Fi networks in a way that expands coverage for communities is key. Leveraging university communities to pilot this technology is precisely a step in the right direction,” Chan added.


The AIR.U consortium expects one or more pilot networks will be operational by the first quarter of 2013.


For more information or to schedule an interview with one of New America’s experts from the Open Technology Institute, please contact Clara Hogan at 202-596-3368 or






NJEDge, WVNET Join The Quilt July 13, 2012

Seattle, July 13, 2012 – The Quilt, the national coalition of advanced regional networks for research and education, welcomes new members NJEDge and West Virginia Network (WVNET). NJEDge and WVNET join 29 other regional and state networks from around the country participating in The Quilt.

“By joining The Quilt, NJEDge staff will have the opportunity to work more closely together and to share best practices with peers from other research and education networks, not only on a broad range of IT issues but on other areas of interest to research and education, such as community building and faculty development,” stated George Laskaris, President and CEO, NJEDge.

WVNET views The Quilt as the best national forum for the exchange of ideas between regional education networks,” according to Dan O’Hanlon, director, WVNET. “As a Quilt member, WVNET will be able to more effectively join with other education networks in shaping the evolution of networks to enhance the service that all of us are able to provide to our constituents.”

“NJEDge and WVNET are highly regarded, not only for their research and education networking leadership in their respective geographies, but also for their contributions to economic development and public service,” said Jen Leasure, president and CEO, The Quilt. “We are thrilled to have them join The Quilt and look forward to a long and productive collaboration towards our shared goals.”

West Virginia Network for Educational Telecomputing (WVNET) is a dynamic service organization providing telecommunications and computing services within West Virginia. Currently focused on state colleges and universities and administered by these entities, WVNET is transitioning to expand its impact by offering services to state government, K-12, public libraries and county government. For more information on WVNET, visit

NJEDge.Net is a non-profit technology consortium of academic and research institutions in New Jersey. Through its deployment of advanced Internet technologies and digital communication, NJEDge.Net supports its members in their institutional teaching and learning; scholarship; research and development; outreach programs; public service, and economic development. Additional details on NJEDge.NET available at

About The Quilt

The Quilt is the national coalition of advanced regional networks for research and education, representing 29 networks across the country. Participants in The Quilt provide advanced network services and applications to over 200 universities and thousands of other educational institutions. Please visit to learn more about The Quilt.