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AU gains faster internet access
6/05/12

Fast connection to the Internet has arrived at Alfred University and with it the ability to connect more readily to other institutions, researchers and the online community at large, which is critically important to an academic community.

New York’s Southern Tier has long been at a competitive disadvantage when it came to connection, but as of June 1 Alfred University now has robust, high speed connection (at 500 MB) thanks to an infusion of funds from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and a partnership with Albany-based ION (Independent Optical Network). The Alfred University project is the first part of a much larger project to be completed under ION’s ARRA grant that will eventually connect 70-plus rural communities.

AU’s Director of Information Technology Gary Roberts said bringing high speed access to the campus has long been a goal. "Years ago it was evident that everything was migrating toward broadband delivery. Even traditional entertainment and utilities were increasingly being delivered over broadband connections."

Roberts began exploring how to get a fiber network in place and invited potential infrastructure partners and users to the discussion. About the same time, the university made the decision to relocate and upgrade its data center, building a state-of-the-art facility, which eventually led ION to the decision to locate a POP (an Internet Point of Presence or hub) on the AU campus.

When ARRA funding became available in 2009, the expansion of fiber networks became more feasible for rural areas, including the Southern Tier, and the deal came together between ION and AU.

"Alfred University is a community anchor institution in this project and has been a great partner to work with," said Jim Becker, president of ION. "We have been working very closely with Gary Roberts and his team and that has made it easier for ION to bring high capacity broadband to rural Western New York."

"It’s widely recognized that bringing fiber to rural communities is very important to their economic future," Becker added. "In fact, this project has been cited on President Obama’s list of 100 stimulus fund projects that are changing America."

As a carrier neutral provider, ION built the infrastructure, installing a sufficient amount of fiber to allow various service providers to utilize as much bandwidth as they need for their customers’ use. INOC, LLC, an Albany-based datacenter and Internet provider, is providing the Internet access to Alfred University via the ION connection.

Funding for the project, called the ION Upstate New York Rural Broadband Initiative, was awarded in late 2009 by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) under its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). In addition to the NTIA stimulus funding, ION received an additional grant of 10 percent of the total project cost through the New York State Innovation Economy Matching Grant Program.

When the ION project is completed, there will be overlapping fiber rings throughout the state, so that broadband circuits can be automatically switched in another direction in the event of a break in the line. The project calls for installation of 1,300-plus miles of fiber optic lines in 10 regions of New York State, as well as neighboring parts of Pennsylvania and Vermont, at a cost of nearly $50 million. The federal investment of $39.7 million was complemented with a $9.8 million investment from ION and the Development Authority of the North Country.

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About ION
ION is an Albany, New York based, statewide, redundant SONET fiber network connecting over 60 rural New York State communities and their surrounding areas to the Information Superhighway, and the many opportunities it provides. The increased bandwidth for transfer of information that ION will make available to rural and urban areas is a necessary component in order to compete in today’s world. ION will provide redundant access to telecommunications services, as well as advanced telecommunication services for businesses, educational institutions, health care providers, libraries, and governmental agencies.

About Alfred University
Alfred University was founded in 1836 by liberal, independent thinkers who placed high value on education for all citizens. Today, the University has retained and built upon the strong values of its founders, developing as an institution of national and international renown that is responsive to the needs of contemporary society while remaining consistent with the spirit of its origins.
Alfred University is the second oldest coeducational college in the United States and one of the earliest nineteenth century colleges to have enrolled African American and Native American students.
Over the course of the twentieth century, Alfred University evolved into a complex institution offering a full range of programs in the liberal arts and sciences, art and design, engineering, business, education, and school psychology. F