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Pennsylvania Coalition Awarded $99.6 Million National Telecommunications and Information Administration Grant

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  • From: Jennifer Oxenford <>
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  • Subject: Pennsylvania Coalition Awarded $99.6 Million National Telecommunications and Information Administration Grant
  • Date: Thu, 18 Feb 2010 10:03:01 -0500

Pennsylvania Coalition Awarded $99.6 Million National Telecommunications and Information Administration Grant

New network will link education, health care and economic development entities across Pennsylvania

February 18, 2010

HARRISBURG – The Obama Administration today awarded more than $99 million in federal stimulus funding to the Keystone Initiative for Network-Based Education and Research (KINBER), a coalition of Pennsylvania colleges and universities, research and health care organizations, and economic development entities that submitted a joint application for the construction and management of a robust, statewide broadband network called the Pennsylvania Research and Education Network (PennREN). The National Telecommunications and Information Administration grant, awarded as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will be supplemented with an additional $29 million in private investment.

When completed, the fiber optic cable network will extend over nearly 1,700 miles through 39 Pennsylvania counties, including 22 that are currently unserved or underserved based on their access to affordable broadband services. ”This project represents an extraordinary collaboration between our public and private universities, health care providers, economic development specialists and other public sector members to develop a network that will provide open access to a state-of-the-art broadband system at affordable cost. Our universities are excited by the opportunities this system will provide not only to our students and faculty, but also to our surrounding communities,” said Dr. John C. Cavanaugh, Chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. “The Pennsylvania State University will be able to use the expanded services available through this network on the first day it is operational,” said Penn State President Graham Spanier. “We expect significant cost avoidance and improved performance by using this network to connect all Penn State locations across the Commonwealth.”

“The support and creation of PennREN will help the University of Pennsylvania and our partners in education, health care and the private sector to better serve and engage with communities throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," said University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann. "By extending broadband communications throughout the state, we open the door to exciting new academic, research and economic opportunities, and Penn is proud to participate as one of the founding members of this network.”

Dr. Jared L. Cohon, President of Carnegie Mellon University, said, “PennREN represents an historic opportunity for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its citizens to recognize the benefits of high-speed broadband networks. The collaboration will connect urban centers and underserved areas across the state, enabling distance learning, telemedicine, and a host of new applications not otherwise possible. In addition, we hope the network will facilitate more opportunities for Carnegie Mellon to partner with other Pennsylvania education institutions connected by PennREN, including community colleges and K-12 schools, to improve the quality of education in Pennsylvania.”

“We’re extremely pleased that the Obama Administration recognized the transformative power of the KINBER proposal,” said C.R. “Chuck” Pennoni, interim president of Drexel University, a founding member of KINBER. “This broadband network represents the best use of stimulus funding. In addition to creating jobs, it will grow the potential for the Commonwealth’s universities to educate Pennsylvanians through distance learning. It will also facilitate research collaborations in both the public and private sectors that can lead to new technologies, medical treatments, basic science discoveries and more.”

Bucknell President Dr. Brian Mitchell commented, “The development of this network will be significant for faculty and students at Bucknell, enabling them to bring the world to Bucknell and take Bucknell out to the world. But it is equally significant that we are bringing robust broadband capacity to rural areas, which historically have been left behind. This grant has the potential to transform our region of the Commonwealth.”

“This stimulus funding for PennREN presents an exciting opportunity for Pennsylvania health care providers to more effectively share vital clinical information and provide telemedicine services,” said Carolyn F. Scanlan, president and CEO of The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania. “With this critical support, PennREN will eventually serve as the conduit to interoperability between health care providers and the Pennsylvania Health Information Exchange (PHIX), and the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN).”

“Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges look forward to working with our education and health care partners to extend this network across the Commonwealth,” said Diane Bosak, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. “We believe it will significantly enhance opportunities for our students and faculty.”

“As our member institutions continue to find ways to collaborate and leverage their resources, this project will prove to be a substantial way in which we can improve access and choice in Pennsylvania’s college and university marketplace,“ said Tim Alexander, Vice President of Finance and Administration for the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is one of only a handful of states without a high-speed optical network serving its higher education and health care institutions, which has prevented the expansion of distance learning and other educational opportunities, has delayed the universal availability of telemedicine, and has limited the ability of many of the state’s leading research universities to access and share critical information throughout the United States and the world.

The proposed network will reach every region of the Commonwealth, providing access and services to anchor institutions that will have the potential to serve more than 5 million individuals in over 2 million households and 200,000 businesses. Initially, it will include 13 primary network facilities and approximately 50 secondary locations. The network will provide the capability to connect colleges and universities, public institutions, regional networks and last mile providers across the Commonwealth.

KINBER’s founding members include the Association for Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, Bucknell University, Carnegie Mellon University, Drexel University, EINetworks, a collaboration of the Allegheny Library Association and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, Lehigh University, the Mid-Atlantic Gigapop for Internet2 (MAGPI) at the University of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, the Pennsylvania State University, the Three Rivers Optical Exchange (3ROX) at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

KINBER is an independent, non-profit corporation created to ensure the needs of all of the members and affiliates are addressed. The proposal was endorsed by more than 25 state and regional organizations.

Press Contacts: 

Karen Ball, (717) 720-4053

Kenn Marshall, (717) 720-4054 or (717) 329-0809

Jennifer Oxenford
484-604-0831 (google voice)
215-898-0341 (office)

215-74MAGPI (215-746-2474)

  • Pennsylvania Coalition Awarded $99.6 Million National Telecommunications and Information Administration Grant, Jennifer Oxenford, 02/18/2010

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