New Network to Give Two-Year Colleges Big Boost

by Robert Bell  on Monday, Jan. 31, 2011 12:00 am  

In addition to the telemedicine component, there is a strong educational aspect to the new broadband network the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is spearheading.

(Click here to read about how the network will affect health care for rural Arkansas residents.)

Four-year colleges in the state already have access to a very high-speed network through the Arkansas Research & Education Optical Network. The new network, of which AREON is taking a large role in building, will allow the state's two-year colleges to get in on the high-speed action.

First and foremost, that means increased capacity, said Ed Franklin, executive director of the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges. "Currently, most of our campuses have 6- to 10-megabits-per-second capacity, and we're going up to between 100 and 110 megabits per second."

With such dramatically faster delivery the schools can have many more bandwidth-hungry applications - such as high-definition video streaming - running simultaneously, he said.

"We're going to have the capacity to do what most other states' community colleges don't have the capacity to do: the capacity to work with the universities, to tie together computers for solving complex problems or for software applications that could never have been done before," Franklin said.

Community colleges also provide work force training for about 50,000 workers every year, Franklin said. The new connection will dramatically increase the possibility for distance learning for businesses, he said.

"Whenever Eisenhower created the interstate highway system, he connected states through cars and trucks," Franklin said. "This is going to be connecting folks through knowledge and information."



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