Third Frontier Network Introduction and Historical Perspective

Ohio is positioned to become a national leader in networking and computing technologies with the deployment of the country’s first statewide fiber optic network for education and research. Called the Third Frontier Network, this new technology initiative of the Ohio Board of Regents is operated by OARnet, the Internet services division of the Ohio Supercomputer Center. By owning and operating this statewide infrastructure that serves all Ohio colleges and universities, trade and technical schools, primary schools, government agencies and a host of non-profit institutions including hospitals, libraries, research centers, and social service agencies, Ohio will achieve the economies of scale that distribute the costs of an historically expensive service in order to achieve the lowest price and maximum benefit for all.

The Third Frontier Network, when completed in the fall of 2004, will provide a 1600 mile state-of-the-art fiber optic backbone to serve institutions throughout the entire state with high-speed Internet connectivity unlike any network in existence today. The Third Frontier Network offers a revolutionary boost to university, economic, health care, industrial, and government collaborations by providing an enormous increase in the ability to run new applications, share expensive resources, deliver massive data sets, provide new research opportunities, and offer the catalyst for advances in society that improve our lives, maintain our health, support economic growth, and protect our safety.

Because funding for higher education has increasingly diminished over the past several years as state and national economies have languished, fewer resources are available to meet the increasing demands of education, research, health care, and economic development. More schools, more teachers, more researchers, more administrators, and more students must compete for increasingly limited financial and physical resources in order to continue serving their constituents and their communities. In response to these increasing financial demands Ohio’s technology leaders have come up with the solution that will help alleviate the shortage of funding and resources confronting the educational, research, and economic development efforts throughout the state.

Ohio has met these challenges by building an infrastructure that will provide the most cost-effective and scalable solution for the long-term needs of education and research because the new network can be shared by constituencies statewide and be customized to meet specific education and research requirements. By deploying the Third Frontier Network Ohio is demonstrating how scarce financial and physical resources can be used as effectively as possible in order to serve the increasing demands of the education, research, health care, industrial, government, and social services constituencies.