Qwest to enhance, run Wyoming education network

Qwest Communications has signed a six-year contract with the Wyoming Education Department to provide services for a statewide network connecting more than 400 public schools.

Under the contract, worth about $24.7 million, Qwest will run the Wyoming Equality Network (WEN). The company created the network in 1998 under a separate contract.

Now the state is upgrading the network to include additional locations, greater bandwidth, enhanced security, voice-over-IP capabilities, increased scalability and improved network management. WEN connects all of the state's public schools, giving students and teachers Internet access, interschool connectivity and a connection to the statewide education network. It also enables about 3,000 hours of distance learning every month for high schools.

WEN "has been heralded as one of the most progressive and effective uses of technologies in national education surveys," said Jim McBride, Wyoming state superintendent of public instruction, in a press release. "We plan to continue our success by working with Qwest to grow the applications and infrastructure of the WEN. We can't overstate the importance of equal access to the Internet, and we're pleased to be among the leaders in the nation when it comes to technology in the classroom."

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