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CCRI to receive improved broadband access
May 11, 2011
Technology is a vital tool for the students of today as they train for the jobs of tomorrow, so it was fitting that an event to commemorate a statewide broadband project was held at the Community College of Rhode Island Liston Campus on May 9.
Rhode Island Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Governor Lincoln Chafee, Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts, Cox Business Vice President Mark Scott, Ocean State Higher Education Economic Development and Administrative Network (OSHEAN) President and CEO George Loftus, CCRI President and Commissioner of Higher Education Ray Di Pasquale, Rhode Island College President Nancy Carriuolo, and many others were all on hand to celebrate the beginning of the Beacon 2.0 project.
Beacon 2.0 is a partnership between government, nonprofit and business interests to connect the state’s public schools, hospitals, colleges and universities, libraries, local governments, and police and fire departments with affordable, high speed, high capacity broadband Internet access.
More than 150 of these nonprofit institutions will share a dedicated fiber optic network built by Cox Communications and provided by OSHEAN, giving them greater Internet speed as well as unprecedented interconnectivity with each other.
At CCRI, Beacon 2.0 will mean faster Internet connection speeds at all four campuses and an enhanced ability to use advanced computer programs for educational purposes.
The project is made possible by a $21.7 million grant from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program as part of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and $10.7 million in private investments.
Senator Reed, who was instrumental in securing the funding for Rhode Island, said Beacon 2.0 will help the state enter the new knowledge economy.
“This fiber optic network will bring us into the new technological era,” he said. “We are now moving forward in a new age with new tools toward new productivity.”
Senator Whitehouse hailed the project for creating a climate of job growth in areas like cyber security.
“The project alone is exciting but what’s more exciting is that once it’s built it is a doorway to more projects in the future,” he said.
Rhode Island’s public schools will be major beneficiaries of the Beacon 2.0 project, with every high school and public higher education institution slated to be online by the program’s completion date of spring 2013.
“It is my firm belief that the smartest thing we can do to get our economy rolling is to invest in our infrastructure and invest in education,” Governor Chafee said.
Di Pasquale said that the new broadband network will indeed be a vital resource for CCRI.
“A critical component of fulfilling our mission is providing access to technology and teaching our students how to use it,” he said.
Cox Communications will install and maintain 385 miles of new fiber optic cable connecting almost every Rhode Island city and town as well as Bristol County, Mass.
“We have an understanding of what OSHEAN does and what their needs are,” Scott said, “We have always had the trust of each other and a strong business relationship.”
He added, “We thank OSHEAN for their partnership and trust, and CCRI for their trust in us as well.”
OSHEAN is a nonprofit organization founded by CCRI alumnus and Society of Knights inductee Loftus in 1999. It is a partner member of the Tech Collective, a technology industry association in Rhode Island.
OSHEAN’s role in the Beacon 2.0 project is to essentially buy Internet service in bulk, known as aggregate, which allows the organization to offer it to Rhode Island’s public institutions at a reduced cost.
Loftus said that connecting all of Rhode Island’s “anchor institutions” will encourage economic growth, research and education.
“And as a CCRI alum, I promise that this will be one of the first sites online,” he said.