As we celebrate two decades of collaborating with community anchor institutions (CAIs) across Rhode Island and Massachusetts, we have an opportunity to pause and reflect upon our early roots and just how far we’ve come since OSHEAN’s founding in 1999.
What began as a germ of an idea during discussions among the University of Rhode Island (URI), Brown University, and the state of Rhode Island about internet access, has developed into an advanced fiber-optic network extending more than 600 miles and innovative, layered technology services to a community of more than 160 member organizations.
In 2009, the effort accelerated and expanded as the group explored ways to utilize a National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) administered grant program called BTOP, or Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. The OSHEAN-led grant proposal called for building a communications fabric that would bring CAIs together to benefit further from advanced network connectivity. This included the merging of the local K-12 and library networks (RINET) into OSHEAN, extending services to these communities.
In the early days of the Internet, there was much energy and excitement around what a research and education network could do for Rhode Island and beyond. OSHEAN started with a single router in Providence that connected to a router in Boston belonging to the Northern Crossroads, a consortium of higher education institutions including Harvard and MIT. A cross-institutional collaboration among an impressive group of organizations including URI, Brown, the Rhode Island School of Design, Johnson & Wales University, Rhode Island College, Bryant University and more, helped propel our network forward.
It’s this spirit of collaboration that still guides us today. Our progress can, in the simplest terms, be measured by our membership growth. In 2009, OSHEAN’s membership numbered 28. Today, OSHEAN provides connections that drive innovation for more than 160 organizations across the region. OSHEAN is dedicated to continuing to expand access to global networks and content providers, and to deliver innovative services such as cost-saving programs for members, embedded security applications, shared research platforms, virtual private cloud services and much more.
It’s evident now more than ever that we truly are stronger together. As we forge into the future, OSHEAN will continue to foster collaboration among and with its members to help manage the rapid pace of change in technology.