As a result of new federal funding, Bloomsburg University will be a part of a new venture to establish a high-performance, fiber optic communications system linking rural communities with education, health care and economic development entities across the state.
This is great news for our university, as a member of PASSHE and the Keystone Initiative for Network-Based Education and Research (KINBER) coalition, to be involved in an effort that’s providing access to a state-of-the-art broadband system at an affordable cost. When finished, the fiber optic cable network will extend nearly 1,700 miles through 39 counties, including 22 counties considered to be unserved or underserved based on their access to affordable broadband services. Families and organizations in those areas, whose only current option is dial-up service, will soon have other affordable choices.
In addition, this network has the potential to facilitate research collaborations – regionally and globally – which could lead to new technologies, medical treatments and scientific discoveries. Not only will BU’s educational potential reach new heights, our role as a valuable resource to the region will strengthen.
Last week, the Obama administration awarded more than $99 million to KINBER, a coalition of colleges and universities (including PASSHE), health care organizations and economic development entities, to develop this much-needed broadband technology. The network will expand broadband Internet access to 60 institutions, including public and private universities, schools, libraries and medical facilities. More than $29 million will be used for similar purposes in underserved areas north of Interstate 80, many of whom are our neighbors.
Once in place, the broadband network will enhance BU’s capabilities to conduct more effective distance education, extensive research and offer real-time, high-performance computing, video conferencing and collaboration with international students and faculty. Just as important, it will ensure our community neighbors have access to the same high-speed technology.