OARnet Among the ‘First to 400G’ on Internet2’s Network: Q&A with Pankaj Shah

Internet2 recently unveiled its fifth-generation backbone, known as the Next Generation Infrastructure (NGI). NGI interconnects with 37 state and regional networks and serves every state in the U.S. Among these 37 are the first five to upgrade to 400 gigabits per second connectivity: Florida LambdaRail, Indiana GigaPOP, Mid-Atlantic Crossroads, Ohio Academic Resources Network, and Utah Education and Telehealth Network. In this “First to 400G” blog series, we spotlight each of these networks and how NGI’s new capabilities and capacity meet the needs of the broader research and education communities.

Pankaj Shah is the executive director of the Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet). In this Q&A, Pankaj discusses OARnet’s mission in support of the state’s higher education institutions and their partners, the opportunities and challenges driving OARnet constituents’ connectivity needs, and what’s next on the horizon.

Tell us more about OARnet. What is your organization’s mission? What is the scope of the communities and institutions you serve – in other words, who depends on your infrastructure and how do they use it?

Pankaj Shah: The Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet), part of the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s OH-TECH consortium, strives to ensure Ohio’s role as a technology leader by implementing next-generation technologies in our network to meet the needs of research, education, government, libraries, and health care communities. By teaming with our communities to develop technology solutions designed to address the demands of an ever-changing environment for the delivery of services, OARnet facilitates innovation as a competitive edge in Ohio’s economic development and prominence as a leader in research and development.

OARnet partners with two state-led initiatives, InnovateOhio and BroadbandOhio, which seek to resolve the digital divide in Ohio by addressing issues of accessibility, affordability, and ease of technology adoption. From small towns to major metropolitan areas in Ohio, we are working to expand the middle mile of the broadband network to reach more communities and also drive down the cost of the last mile of service.

These initiatives are built on public/private partnerships that are critical for their success. A broadband expansion project in the city of East Cleveland, for example, relies on robust collaboration between private entities such as Microsoft and GE Lighting, public entities such as OARnet, Cuyahoga County, Connect-ITC, and the East Cleveland City Schools, and non-profits like PCs for People, just to name a few. [Read full interview at Internet2 | News]

Article author: Amber Rasche, Senior Communications Specialist, Internet2