Infrastructure $25.1M federal stimulus grant to connect Ivy Tech campuses to I-Light network

$25.1M federal stimulus grant to connect Ivy Tech campuses to I-Light network

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The U.S. Department of Commerce announced today a $25.1 million broadband infrastructure grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to connect 21 Ivy Tech Community College campuses to the I-Light network, Indiana’s high-performance, optical-fiber telecommunications network for research and education.

The I-Light network was initiated in 1999 with a $5.3 million state appropriation by the Indiana General Assembly. Then Governor Frank O’Bannon launched the I- Light network on December 11, 2001. The network already connects 42 colleges and universities to advance research, education, and economic opportunities throughout Indiana.

The award will also allow Zayo Bandwidth, a regional provider of fiber-based bandwidth infrastructure solutions, to expand broadband connectivity across the state of Indiana to unserved and underserved areas.

The  grant is expected to employ Hoosiers to make and lay the 266 miles of network cable while also supporting Indiana education and educational research in the state.

According to a press release issued by Indiana University, Zayo Bandwidth will build 626 miles of new 96-strand fiber across the state to complete this project and provide new jobs. Two strands of fiber will be dedicated to connect 21 Ivy Tech campuses to I-Light, which connects to the nation’s most advanced educational and research networks Internet2 and National LambdaRail.

“Indiana was a pioneer in 1999 when the state invested $5.3 million to create the nation’s first optical research and education network that was owned and operated by higher education,” noted IU President Michael A. McRobbie. “That original network connected the state’s major research universities with great success. In 2005, the state began expanding I-Light to connect all institutions of higher education to I-Light. This federal award greatly accelerates that vision by connecting the remaining Ivy Tech campuses.”

Ivy Tech President Thomas J. Snyder said, “This investment of stimulus money for broadband is especially timely for the growing needs of Ivy Tech. It gives vastly improved connectivity among all Ivy Tech campuses, and connects our students and faculty to the best educational resources that use high speed networks. This grant helps increase the overall efficiency for higher education in the state.”

Zayo will also make broadband services available to as many as 80 communities along the fiber path that presently meet federal guidelines as unserved or underserved, including more than 480,000 households, 49,000 businesses and thousands of health, public safety, education and government centers.

The project, totaling $31.8 million overall and expected to be completed in three years, is also supported by Zayo matching funds and in-kind contributions and investments from Ivy Tech, Indiana University, Ball State University and Purdue University.

Map: Courtesy of Indiana University