The Connecticut Education Network (CEN) provides more than a network of vital infrastructure and digital connectivity. It is a network of people and organizations extending into every corner of Connecticut, connecting community anchor institutions that serve all citizens. CEN’s 21st year has been one of adaptation and continued growth as we pursue our mission to deliver technological value to our members. In every dimension of CEN’s five-year strategic plan, we have raised the bar for providing value, igniting innovation, fostering collaboration, promoting advocacy, and enhancing core resources.
More than an ISP
CEN’s membership growth, retention, and security subscription rates illustrate the value members realize from CEN. In 2021, CEN added 39 new members and retained 99.6 percent of existing members. In addition to membership growth, CEN built new fiber circuits to 59 addresses attached to existing members, enhancing their ability to leverage CEN services across their network of facilities. CEN’s security services portfolio including DDoS protection, virtual firewall services, DNS firewall, web filtering and student safety applications, continues to provide education members the safeguards they need to maintain operational integrity and to protect their students and staff.
CEN members realized a cost avoidance savings of $33.1 million last year, 8 percent more than in 2020. Member costs for CEN provided Internet access, DDoS protection, web filtering, and student safety applications. In addition, the no-cost bandwidth capacity upgrades were significantly less than similar services from competitors or the cost of procuring these services individually.
Closing the digital divide
In support of Gov. Lamont’s Everybody Learns Initiative to close the digital divide in Connecticut, CEN led a project to bring free, outdoor, high-speed Wi-Fi service to public organizations across the state. “Walk-up, Drive-up, Connect!” sites provided students and families 24×7 access to CEN’s high-speed Internet. In partnership with its members, CEN built public Wi-Fi access at 154 sites and recorded more than 83,500 unique client logins from community citizens last year.
CEN seized this opportunity to increase access to Eduroam by deploying it at each public Wi-Fi site. With plans to join the Internet2 Support Organization Program for Eduroam in 2022 and high adoption rates in the Connecticut higher education community, CEN already has enlisted multiple public school districts as pilot sites to broaden the member support network.
CEN and its Engagement and Development Advisory Council led the way in providing the CEN community with more than 40 hours of technical training opportunities throughout the year. This included the Virtual Member Conference with 34 sessions, AI and Proctoring & Alternative Assessments training events, an E-Rate Primer for Schools and Libraries, and three member Town Hall forums.
CEN, the nation’s first all-optical research and education network, delivers reliable, high-speed Internet access, data transport, and value-added services to its members drawn from K-12, higher education, libraries, state government, and municipalities throughout Connecticut. CEN’s statewide fiber-optic network connects more than 1.8 million citizens in support of Connecticut’s workforce and economic development.