Indiana public television stations will soon be able to expand their offerings to their viewers, thanks to I-Light, Indiana's high-speed fiber optic network.
As part of the U.S. UCAN initiative to bring broadband connections to community anchor institutions, the I-Light Network has partnered with Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations (IPBS) to connect local stations to the I-Light Network's fiber optic backbone, which connects Indiana's higher education community to regional, national, and international research and education networks.
I-Light has worked with both local fiber providers and private telecom businesses to connect the local broadcasting stations with "last mile" connectivity to the I-Light Network. Most are now connected, and the rest will be connected by the end of October.
The advantage to Indiana PBS is that local stations will be able to trade content faster. Traffic between stations will not interfere with commercial internet traffic.
"The stations will also be able to stream coverage of events, such as those at the Statehouse, over I-Light instead of sending a satellite truck to record sessions," said I-Light Member Services Manager Caroline Weilhamer. The move should save the stations significant money over time by eliminating the need for expensive tape-based and satellite communication services for content sharing.
Taking on the partnership was a new challenge for I-Light. "We regularly work with the higher education community," said I-Light Provisioning Coordinator Lesley Seitz. "Our members generally have a large technology infrastructure in place and have similar needs to each other."
The stations themselves faced some challenges -- as they traditionally do not work together on a regular basis. "All of these stations are independent entities," Seitz said. "It wasn't easy to bring them together, but we have had a great time collaborating with the station engineers. I think we have been able to work together to figure out the needs of each station."
Stations located on university campuses, such as WTIU and WFIU in Bloomington, were already using I-Light as part of their university affiliation. Now all stations will have a fast connection to each other and to all I-Light member institutions.
It will take approximately six months for I-Light and IPBS to measure the success of the relationship, Weilhamer notes. The stations have to figure out how to best use their network connection and work out any kinks.
I-Light is a collaboration among Indiana colleges and universities, state government, and private sector broadband providers with operations provided by the Global Research Network Operations Center (GlobalNOC) at Indiana University.