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Northern Ring of the I-Light Higher Education Network Activated

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Public and private colleges and universities across northern Indiana now have significantly greater access to very high-speed networking for collaboration, research, and education thanks to the expansion of I-Light, Indiana 's statewide higher education optical fiber network. Network engineers from the Global Research Network Operations Center at IUPUI have certified that I-Light is now ready to transmit network traffic among universities and colleges across northern Indiana, and between those campuses and the Internet as well as national research networks such as Internet2 and National LambdaRail.

Once the entire network is completed, I-Light's ultimate 1,000 miles of fiber will reach into all four corners of the state and will be larger, per capita, than similar networks in neighboring states. I-Light will dramatically improve on Indiana's position as a national leader in very high-speed networking in support of teaching, learning, research, technology transfer, and inter-institutional collaboration and cooperation -- activities that will help fuel the State's economy.

In November 2005, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels announced his intention to release funding for the I-Light Expansion Project and assigned to Indiana University and Purdue University responsibility for the expansion, management, and operation of the resulting statewide I-Light network. This development expands the original I-Light optical fiber network far beyond the Bloomington-Indianapolis-West Lafayette corridor that it has served until this point.

Nine major network connection points, called "nodes," at Indianapolis, Anderson, Muncie, Marion, Ft. Wayne, South Bend, Gary, West Lafayette, and Kokomo, support the northern I-Light ring. Installation of each of these major nodes and several smaller nodes required contracts with campuses or private companies for equipment space and power, and I-Light network engineers then installed state-of-the-art optical hardware in all of the nodes in the network path. The southern legs of the network from Indianapolis to Evansville and Sellersburg have been more technically challenging, but are scheduled to be ready for access by southern colleges and universities by the end of 2006.

"Activating this major section of I-Light is a major achievement for the State of Indiana ," said Mark Bruhn, IU associate vice president for telecommunications. "This type of network will draw students and faculty to Indiana universities and colleges, large and small, because it's what today's always-connected students expect, and it's what faculty and researchers need."

Scott Ksander, Purdue University 's executive director for networking, said I-Light will benefit collaborative research among state institutions. "The capability to advance collaboration among Indiana colleges and universities of all sizes will accelerate research and will benefit them and the State immensely," Ksander said.

Per Governor Daniels' decree, IU and Purdue are providing network engineering support and monitoring the operation of the network. Network operations for I-Light will be co-located with IU's Global Research Network Operations Center on the IUPUI campus. This Center already provides engineering and management support for a variety of regional, national, and international education and research networks.