INDIANAPOLIS – High-speed Internet connectivity between 63 Indiana universities and colleges will be celebrated Thursday (Nov. 3) when officials gather to recognize the approaching completion of a $35.8 million infrastructure project connecting 21 Ivy Tech Community College campuses to Indiana’s I-Light network.
The U.S. Department of Commerce last year awarded I-Light and Zayo Bandwidth, a regional provider of fiber-based bandwidth infrastructure solutions, $25.1 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to connect the 21 Ivy Tech campuses to the state I-Light network. Additional funds for the project came from Zayo and members of the I-Light partnership.
“With every expansion of I-Light the state of Indiana gains another competitive advantage in a global economy where new ways of leveraging information access and management, collaboration and expertise can revolutionize the way research and education are conducted,” said Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie. “Indiana University is delighted to play such an integral role in a remarkable public-private partnership that recognizes the value and potential of connecting people.”
The press event and reception will be held at University Place Conference Center’s Reading Room, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, at 850 W. Michigan St. IU Associate Vice President for Networks David Jent will offer opening and closing remarks and a perspective on what the effort means to IU and the state of Indiana. Remarks will begin at 3:30 p.m.
Also scheduled to speak are Jeff Pittman, vice president for Ivy Tech Online (“What this project means to Ivy Tech”); I-Light operations manager Marianne Chitwood, who will offer an I-Light perspective; Monticello Mayor Jason Thompson (“Community benefit of new connection”); and Zayo Networks Director Essam El-Beik (“ What it means to be middle-mile and the range of services that will be provided through the build.”).
In addition to the project deploying 626 miles of fiber-optic network between the Ivy Tech campuses and the 42 colleges and universities already on the I-Light network, Zayo will also make broadband services available to as many as 80 communities along the fiber path that met federal guidelines as unserved or underserved, including more than 49,000 businesses and thousands of health, public safety, education and government centers.
“We will always work with our four-year partners to continue to provide world class higher education in our state,” said Pittman. “We are grateful for Indiana University’s leadership with this project. It is providing vastly improved connectivity among all Ivy Tech campuses, and connects our students and faculty to the best educational resources that use high speed networks.”
This summer marks the completion of fiber builds to connect Ivy Tech Warsaw, Ivy Tech Monticello, Ivy Tech Gary, Ivy Tech Elkhart, Ivy Tech Evansville, Ivy Tech Valparaiso, Ivy Tech Fort Wayne, and Ivy Tech Lafayette. Sites scheduled to complete by the end of 2011 include Ivy Tech Franklin, Ivy Tech Madison and Ivy Tech Lawrenceburg.
“By interconnecting campuses and providing access to the I-Light network, we are building an extensive network designed for collaboration to enhance learning,” said Glenn Russo, president of Zayo Networks. “We are creating the communications infrastructure for institutions, businesses and households to better grow the economy and potential job offerings in the area. With this additional bandwidth, Indiana will have more cost effective access and can tap into nation-wide educational and research platforms, by bringing together resources throughout the state and across the country.”
The overall cost of the project as submitted to the U.S. Department of Commerce was $35.82 million, which included an in-kind contribution of $4.4 million for existing Zayo fiber. Cost for the new fiber build is $31.42 million, with in-kind contributions and a cash match of $6.28 million covering approximately 29 percent of the overall project cost.
I-Light was initiated in 1999 with a $5.3 million state appropriation by the Indiana General Assembly and was launched in December 2001 in collaboration with colleges and universities, state government and private sector broadband providers. Indiana colleges and universities are connected directly to I-Light at speeds from 1 Gigabit to 10 Gigabit with the ability to provide even larger, on-demand wavelengths between research groups on various campuses. The system is also networked with the nation’s most advanced educational and research networks, Internet2 and National LambdaRail.
In addition to providing more bandwidth than most Indiana colleges and universities could otherwise afford, the network also connects classrooms at distant locations with high-quality video-streaming, allows researchers at any location to exchange large digital data files, provides access to supercomputers and scientific data storage facilities, facilitates multi-campus collaborative research projects, and enables the use of high-definition learning tools such as telepresence.