Orange County Department of Education Upgrades to 100 GE Connection, One of the First K-12 Entities in the Country. On Thursday, March 24, 2016, Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) began moving all Internet traffic through their newly installed 100 gigabit per second (Gbps) infrastructure upgrade. This connection will support more than 500 schools and sites in 27 school districts in Orange County. It is the first K-12 educational entity in the nation to acquire this robust connection speed.
The beginning speed when OCDE became a node site in 2001 was 45 megabits per second (Mbps). It has been steadily increasing since then with an increase to 155 Mbps in 2003, an increase to 1 Gbps in 2007 and to 10 Gbps in 2010. Before this year’s upgrade, the school districts connecting to OCDE had ten circuits connecting at 10 Gbps and 26 circuits at one Gbps. It also owned three 1 Gbps Switched Ethernet Collector Circuits to support 66 50 Mbps connections and three 100 Mbps connections. One other 1 Gbps OptEMan circuit provided a district with 500 Mbps of capacity. The OCDE fully realized their need for the upgrade when a school district’s 10 Gbps circuit peaked at 93 percent of its capacity.
This long term solution will help educators get students engaged in web-based instruction and multimedia content in the classroom, including streaming high resolution videos and taking virtual field trips without the frustration of slower speeds causing bottleneck issues.
“The K-12 High Speed Network (K12HSN) staff was critical, supplying the infrastructure, expertise and coordination to make this a reality. Luis Wong, the K12HSN staff and Ed Smith at CENIC were particularly instrumental in our efforts to secure this 100-gigabit connection,” said Carl Fong, Executive Director, Information Technology at the OCDE.
Imperial County Office of Education, the Lead Educational Agency of the K-12 High Speed Network, has also been anxiously awaiting this connection. “The bandwidth needs for our schools are increasing at a tremendous rate, and keeping up with this trend has presented some challenges. The explosive growth of computing devices and rich online learning in our schools makes this bandwidth critically important for our students,” says Dr. Todd Finnell, County Superintendent of Schools in Imperial County. “Lighting up the first 100 Gbps circuit in California’s K-12 system is indicative of this growth, and the need for it came much sooner than any of us would have expected. This is a major step forward for school networking in California, and the students throughout Orange County will see immediate improvements in their level of connectivity and the many benefits it brings,” he added.
Luis Wong, Chief Executive Officer at the K-12 High Speed Network, echoed the sentiment. “Orange County is a great example that demonstrates the high need for scalable network capacity at the K-12 aggregation nodes. 100 Gbps over dark fiber will provide our K-12 node sites the much needed capacity for the demands of today and the foreseeable future,” he said.
The backbone service is provided by the Corporation for Education Networking Initiatives (CENIC), the non-profit that operates the California Research and Education Network (CalREN), a high capacity network designed to meet the unique requirements of 20 million users, including the vast majority of California K-20 students together with educators, researchers and other vital public-serving institutions.
The K-12 High Speed Network manages K-12’s participation in CalREN on behalf of the California Department of Education to support its goal of serving the bandwidth needs of schools, districts, and county offices of education. The K-12 portion of the network has 87 node sites serving an audience of more than 900 school districts, nearly 8,300 schools and over 5 million students. On behalf of these constituents, the K12HSN, working collaboratively with CENIC, continuously seeks solutions that will meet growing classroom needs.