On March 11, 2020, shortly after cases of the COVID-19 virus were officially detected in Ohio, Chancellor Randy Gardner and OARnet staff reached out to their communities to offer subsidized expansion of network bandwidth. This was done in an effort to better serve what was expected to be a dramatically increased need for online learning and teleworking arrangements.
"When it became clear that COVID-19 was going to disrupt the spring semester at our colleges and universities, Governor DeWine asked the Department of Higher Education to be as flexible and supportive as possible in assisting them," Chancellor Gardner said. "As part of that, OARnet – part of our OH-TECH consortium – stepped up to offer a temporary bandwidth increase at no additional cost to those campuses requesting it."
OARnet was one of the first statewide networks to offer stakeholders access to expanded bandwidth at no additional cost during this crisis. As of May 27, 2020, OARnet has received 62 upgrade requests for bandwidth increases, ranging from 18 percent to 3233 percent. Total bandwidth for these 62 organizations to date will increase from 163,126 Megabits-per-second to 354,685. Below is a breakdown by category of the upgrades and reasons for the requests.
- 28 institutions of higher education
- To support an increase in distance learning, faculty and staff working remotely, and online access to applications (learning management systems, Zoom)
- 18 K-12 large urban districts and information technology centers
- To support an increase in distance learning, teachers and administrators working remotely, and online access to applications (Zoom and administrative systems)
- 15 state and local government agencies, cities, and counties
- To support an increase in video and teleconferencing, elected officials, staff, and employees working remotely, and access to application (WebEx, Zoom, and administrative systems)
- 1 research center
- To support an increase in video and teleconferencing and administration and staff working remotely
These upgrades are being installed by network engineers that are required to work in the field, observing safe practices such as social distancing, while nearly all of the remaining OARnet staff is servicing member-organization needs remotely.