Penn State partner in statewide broadband project awarded $99 million

University Park, Pa. - More than $99 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding was awarded today (Feb. 18) to the Keystone Initiative for Network-Based Education and Research (KINBER).  Penn State is a founding member of KINBER, a coalition of Pennsylvania colleges and universities, research and healthcare organizations and economic development entities. The award will help fund the construction and management of the Pennsylvania Research and Education Network (PennREN), a robust, statewide broadband education and research network.

"This is a transformative endeavor for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and for The Pennsylvania State University," said Penn State President Graham Spanier. "Our faculty and students will benefit greatly from the research and educational collaborations this network will spur. The network will also bring much needed broadband capacity for distance education, economic development and telemedicine, and will include areas of the Commonwealth that have been underserved historically."

PennREN will reach every region of the commonwealth, extending through 39 Pennsylvania counties, 22 of which currently are unserved or under-served based on access to affordable broadband services. Through anchor institutions like Penn State, the network has the potential to provide services to more than 5 million individuals across 2 million households and 200,000 businesses.

When completed, all Penn State locations across the commonwealth will be connected through PennREN. It is expected use of PennREN will allow for significant cost avoidance for the University, while substantially increasing network capability and capacity. For example, researchers at all campuses will have the same high-speed capability to aid their research projects; and the University will have more control over network capacity allowing for longer term and more reliable network forecasting.

“With 48 strands of optical fiber and a 1,700 miles long pathway, the delivery capacity of this network for Penn State and it's 23 campuses is enormous,” said Kevin Morooney, Penn State Vice Provost for Information Technology. “The commonwealth-wide, institutional collaboration to create PennREN will provide each partner institution access to a network we’d otherwise not be positioned to construct on our own, and will enhance Penn State's ability to serve its land grant mission.”

The federal funds, supplemented with an additional $29 million in private investment, were awarded through the American Recovery and Revitalization Act by the NTIA, so PennREN will be created as a private/public partnership. The construction of this network will allow additional optical fiber cable to be available for commercial service providers to use.

In October, 15 members of Pennsylvania's Congressional delegation (Glenn Thompson, Tim Holden, Jason Altmire, Robert Brady, Kathy Dahlkemper, Charles Dent, Chaka Fattah, Jim Gerlach, Patrick Murphy, John Murtha, Joseph Pitts, Todd Platts, Allyson Schwartz, Joe Sestak and Bill Shuster) and both of Pennsylvania's senators (Robert Casey and Arlen Specter) wrote to the Secretary of Commerce in support of the KINBER proposal. Their letters stressed the educational, health care and economic benefits of the proposed network.

KINBER’s founding members include the Association for Independent Colleges, the University of Pennsylvania, Bucknell University, Carnegie Mellon University, Drexel University, EINetworks, a collaboration of the Allegheny Library Association and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the Hospital & Health system Association of Pennsylvania, Lehigh University, the Mid-Atlantic Gigapop for Internet 2 (MAGPI) at the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, The Pennsylvania State University, Three Rivers Optical Exchange (3ROX), the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

KINBER is an independent, non-profit corporation to ensure the needs of all of the members and affiliates are addressed. The proposal to create PennREN was endorsed by more than 25 state and regional organizations.

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Last Updated March 03, 2010