OARnet: Last Mile Enhancement Program brings tenfold increase in broadband speed to 40 Ohio colleges and universities

Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) Chancellor Randy Gardner and OARnet have announced the $12.1 million Last Mile Enhancement Program to increase broadband speeds by 1,000% at 40 Ohio colleges and universities.

The award will also enable all 87 OARnet-connected colleges and universities to double their internet subscriptions for two years beginning Jan. 1, 2021. The added capacity will enable more bandwidth-intensive applications and better facilitate remote instruction.

Supported by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, the program enables OARnet to work with commercial “last mile” providers to upgrade connections to its ultra-fast 5,500-mile fiber optic backbone at each of the 40 institutions.

“COVID-19 accelerated a pre-existing trend in the expansion of remote and hybrid learning,” Chancellor Gardner said. “The Last Mile Enhancement Program enables Ohio’s faculty and instructors to continue delivering high quality academic experiences in this new environment.”

The 40 institutions include community, technical and four-year colleges and universities, both public and private, whose networks experienced unprecedented demand after the sudden shift to remote and hybrid learning models because of COVID-19. Their connections to OARnet will increase from one Gigabit per second (Gbps) or less to 10 Gbps, an improvement that could, for instance, shorten a transfer of one terabyte of data from 160 minutes to 16. It could also dramatically increase the number and quality of simultaneous student video connections to a remote classroom platform. [Read the full announcement at OARnet | Press Releases]