Cincinnati Education Research Fiber Loop to Connect with Ohio's Third Frontier Network

Columbus, Ohio -- March 19, 2003 -- The Third Frontier Network (TFN), along with the Cincinnati Education Research Fiber Loop (CERF), will help create the nation’s most advanced research network. Eventually, TFN and CERF will serve libraries, hospitals, cultural institutions, and corporate research communities.

The CERF project, activated in February 2003, began with Procter & Gamble (P&G) donating a pair of optical fiber cables to Cincinnati State Technical and Community College (CSTCC). Realizing that potential uses for the fiber exceeded the needs of CSTCC, Cincinnati State approached the University of Cincinnati (UC), OSC Networking, and other southern Ohio higher education institutions to develop a consortium to use and manage CERF. CERF will connect to the Third Frontier Network and Internet2 later this year.

Mark Faulkner, UC Director of Network and Telecommunications Services, said discussions with CSTCC began about two years ago. In July 2002, Blackwell Consulting Services took the project lead for CSTCC and collaborated with UC to bring it to fruition.

Faulkner said CERF provides significant benefits to education and research institutions in the Cincinnati area and the southern Ohio region. In particular, it will allow UC to support Genome Research Institute development as a world-class research facility.

“This research facility provides an opportunity for UC to unite groups of highly qualified investigators,” said Faulkner. “These investigators will develop a nationally competitive biomedical presence in Cincinnati and the Tri-State region.”

Historically, higher education institutions have dealt with bandwidth constraints by leasing or purchasing expensive circuits from local telephone carriers.

When connection to the TFN is established later this year, it will launch unlimited possibilities. “It will provide the foundation for institutions to share disaster preparedness facilities and give researchers available bandwidth to share instruments, computing cycles and other applications on an information technology autobahn,” said Charlie Moran, Vice President of Education Industry Consulting, Blackwell Consulting Services.

Using CISCO Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) electronics, the fiber loop is currently configured with one 2.5 Gbps lambda throughout the 60-mile ring. CSTCC’s main and Evendale campuses are on the fiber loop, and UC’s main and north campuses are online, routing all data traffic over the fiber loop. Plans call for connecting the new National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, a research and educational museum to be built in Cincinnati, to CERF.

Faulkner said the CERF project has been a team effort in every aspect. Identifying an affordable architecture for the organizations involved was also a key component.

“In early discussions, it became evident that partnering with CSTCC was beneficial to both institutions. Governance, operations, equipment architecture, and implementation were critical issues to work through,” Faulkner said.

During this massive multi-year project, the Third Frontier Network is being built in four phases that include the following segments: Phase 1: Establish a statewide core backbone to hubs in major Ohio cities; Phase 2: Connect Ohio’s major research universities to these hubs; Phase 3: Connect Ohio’s small- and medium-sized colleges and universities; Phase 4: Connect Ohio’s corporate research centers with the academic research community.

Paul DeNu, Dean of Information Technologies and Engineering Technologies at Cincinnati State, said, "CERF will provide a tremendous opportunity for Cincinnati State's multimedia programs to access and distribute media over the Internet and ultimately result in dramatic improvements in the College's distance learning courses."

More information on TFN is available at tfn.oar.net.

About the University of Cincinnati
UC offers many pathways for success by providing a balance of educational excellence and real-world experience. Within a dynamic community, the university nurtures rich cultural experiences and the intellectual exchange of ideas. Since its founding in 1819, UC has been the source of many discoveries creating positive change for society, including co-op education, the oral polio vaccine, the first electronic organ, the first safe anti-knock gasoline, and the first antihistamine. Each year, this public, comprehensive university graduates 5,000 students, adding to more than 200,000 living alumni around the world. UC is the largest employer in the Cincinnati region, with an economic impact of more than $3 billion. For more information, visit www.uc.edu.

About Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
CSTCC reflects the rich diversity of the Tri-State region. CSTCC is committed to creating an environment that fosters and values the differences each individual brings to the College. CSTCC offers small class sizes, a student-friendly environment and dedicated faculty and staff members who go the extra mile to serve students. Program advisors from business and industry keep students current on career requirements and employment trends, and co-op employers are committed partners in the educational process. CSTCC is experiencing many positive changes, such as the addition of a $55 million building called the Advanced Technology & Learning Center. For more information, see www.cincinnatistate.edu.

About Blackwell Consulting Services
Blackwell Consulting Services (BCS) is a full-service, full-life cycle management and information technology consulting firm. Founded in 1992 and headquartered in Chicago, it is the largest minority-owned information technology (IT) consulting company in the Midwest. BCS clients comprise three major sectors of the economy: industrial Fortune 1000 companies, municipal government and higher education. BCS has worked with both single and multi-campus institutions in helping them design, plan and manage their WAN and LAN environments. Blackwell is a privately held company with approximately 240 full-time consultants and technical professionals in the U.S., with remote offices in Atlanta, Bloomington, Ill., and Cincinnati. For more information, see www.bcsinc.com.

About OSC Networking
OSC Networking is an Ohio-based regional Internet service providing connectivity to 91 college and university networks throughout the state, as well as government agencies, corporate enterprises, and non-profit institutions. OSC Networking continually investigates and implements the latest in advanced technologies to serve and support the information architecture of its clients. OSC Networking peers with more than 100 ISPs both nationally and internationally, and maintains data centers throughout the country. OSC Networking is a division of the Ohio Supercomputer Center, a technology initiative of the Ohio Board of Regents. For more information, visit www.oar.net.