OARnet Member Rio Grande Community College Supports OMMC Goals

Oct 7, 2010

Editor's Note: OARnet member Rio Grande Community College, working with OMMC partner Horizon Telcom, is extending its fiber-optic infrastructure to surrounding regions of Ohio. Students, businesses and health care will benefit from the higher bandwidth. This story has been reprinted with permission from the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College.

(Oct. 21, 2010) - The University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College is proudly participating in several new projects that will bring more high-speed Internet capabilities to the campus and to the people and businesses of the region.

Rio Grande is not providing funding for these projects, but is working with state and regional officials in order to assist with these projects, which will have numerous benefits for southern Ohio.

One project involves Horizon Telecom of Chillicothe and its work with the Southern Ohio Healthcare Network. This project is providing new, high-speed Internet lines that connect several regional healthcare facilities. Horizon's fiber optic lines also cross through the Rio Grande campus, and Rio Grande is serving as a hub for the new technology. The hub on campus is in the lower level of the Davis Library.

At the same time that this project is happening, federal stimulus dollars are funding the Ohio Middle Mile Consortium, which is expanding high-speed Internet technology throughout the region so that more people will be able to access it.

Horizon Telecom is part of the Ohio Middle Mile Consortium, and is playing a key role in expanding the high-speed Internet capabilities in the region after being granted a $66.5 million project award. Horizon will construct 1,960 new miles of fiber optics across 34 southern and eastern Ohio counties. Two other awards will cover the remaining portions of the state and expand the Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet) network infrastructure.

With Horizon's build-out of the Southern Ohio Healthcare Network, and with federal stimulus dollars funding projects to expand high-speed Internet access, Rio Grande and people from the surrounding communities should be able to tap into the new Internet lines running throughout the region.

The expansion of the Internet services will take time, but more schools, libraries, small business and residents in Gallia, Jackson, Meigs and Vinton counties will be able to receive the high-speed Internet services through these different projects. The Rio Grande Community College Meigs Center has also contracted with Horizon for a fiber-based service to replace existing copper T1 lines.

For the Rio Grande campus, these projects will mean a significant increase in the amount of bandwidth available for high-speed Internet services.

“We are going to triple the amount of our bandwidth and add redundancy,” said Kingsley Meyer, director of Campus Computing and Networking. This will make Internet run faster and more smoothly on campus, which will benefit students greatly.

In addition, Rio Grande is expanding the number of Internet and hybrid courses that it offers (hybrid courses are a mix of online and traditional classes) in order to better reach its students. The increased bandwidth on campus will also assist with the new online courses being added at Rio Grande.

“It gives us new tools and capabilities for our classes,” Meyer said. Rio Grande classes will also be able to use more video links because of the increased bandwidth, Meyer said.

Connect Ohio, through another federal stimulus award is also providing funding for new computers and training classes to be established in Gallia, Jackson, Meigs and Vinton counties so that area residents without high-speed Internet access at their homes can use the high-speed Internet in these facilities. The Every Community Online initiative is looking to increase the adoption rate for Broadband Internet. Rio Grande is participating with this project as well to help area residents, Meyer said. It has not been determined yet where the training sessions will be held.

All of these projects together are designed to allow area residents to use high -speed Internet services at their homes or at local computer labs. And when the high-speed Internet lines are available at their homes, the new projects will make it more affordable than it has been in recent years.

The expanded capabilities will also greatly benefit local businesses, which will be better able to reach customers and conduct work over the Internet through the new capabilities.

All of these projects will take time to complete, but Rio Grande is proud to be assisting in order to best serve its students and the community.

For more information on the new high-speed Internet service coming to Rio Grande and the community, call Kingsley Meyer at 1-800-282-7201. For additional information on the wide range of academic programs offered on Rio Grande's scenic campus and over the Internet, log onto www.rio.edu.