CENIC Announces Path-Breaking 100Gb Connection with Orange County Department of Education Network

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.”