Network Nebraska opens for business

Nebraska officials this week formally launched a statewide telecommunications initiative that links government agencies, schools and colleges.

Network Nebraska, a cooperative project that includes a number of different telecommunications companies, is aimed at offering affordable broadband Internet connections to all areas of the largely rural state. A major goal is to enable school and college students to get access to course material no matter where they live via state-of-the-art distance learning facilities.

It also pushes the government's reach further out to these areas.

"Network Nebraska broadens opportunities for enhanced learning, improves access to health care and more efficiently delivers government services," said Lt. Gov. Dave Heineman, the chair of the Nebraska Information Technology Commission (NITC), when launching the network.

Network Nebraska is one of the first such state initiatives to use MultiProtocol Label Switching (MPLS), a technology that allows various types of network protocols such as Frame Relay, Asynchronous Transfer Mode, Ethernet and IP to be consolidated into a single infrastructure, reducing both capital and operational expenses. It also enables voice, video and data traffic to be easily integrated onto this common backbone.

Officials tout the new network as a major source of savings. Organizations that use Network Nebraska should each save a minimum of several thousands of dollars a year on average in connection charges, say the project's proponents.

For example, the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Commission expects to save around $30,000 a year through aggregation of bandwidth. Wayne State College projects savings of $14,000 a year — even as its Internet bandwidth nearly doubles.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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