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Can we be the “Biggest Little State”?

Posted By David Marble, Wednesday, June 3, 2015


As I write this, I am on a plane flying back from Oklahoma where I was visiting OneNet, the Oklahoma Regional Research and Education Network (REN).  I am always struck by the challenges the larger state RENs have in just reaching their member sites, not only with physical connections but with the necessary face to face sessions necessary to move projects along.  Even though I am a massive fan of technology, I still think there is strength in face to face communications.  OneNet is challenged to visit their members even once a year.  Even with videoconferencing, they are at a disadvantage compared to RI when looking at designing and implementing statewide programs and projects.  The question is, have we taken advantage?


I am convinced RI doesn’t view its size as an asset nor does it take advantage of what can be done given the fact that we can pretty much get anywhere in the state in 30 minutes.  We have wonderful opportunities to drive efficiency statewide leveraging our infrastructure to reduce duplication while driving use of underutilized assets.  Moreover, we have the opportunity to design new and innovative statewide services for areas like Adult Education, Healthcare and Municipalities.  Imagine if we looked at serving the 34 non-profits dedicated to educating our adult learners with proper broadband connectivity and access to a statewide learning management system and teaching tools.  Imagine a statewide healthcare network that reached nursing homes with the latest in tele-medicine technology thereby reducing ambulance rolls and emergency room visits.  Imagine helping the municipalities statewide with connectivity, consolidated hosting, on-line services and disaster recovery architectures.


Sometimes our size can work against us in trying to obtain grant money for connectivity.  Right now the FCC is prioritizing rural areas for investment in broadband and there is very little turf in RI classified as such.  However, that should not stop us from looking at these opportunities at a statewide level.  These types of initiatives work to the heart of topics that are on the minds of everyone I talk to here in little ole Rhody: workforce development, Improved healthcare outcomes, reduced costs and in turn, economic advantage.  I am feeling the buzz building with respect to the "can do" attitudes necessary to support initiatives like these here in the state.  I have longed for the day when we move from the proverbial "fellowship of the miserable" to this kind of optimism.  Are you detecting a change?


Sing with me now….”We're the biggest little state in the union, Rhode Island, Rhode Island”

Tags:  Broadband  Communications  Research  Rhode Island  Technology 

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Posted By David Marble, Monday, March 30, 2015
Updated: Monday, March 30, 2015

In 1979, I was in the second row of a Kinks concert at the Providence Civic Center singing the words to “LOLA” at the top of my lungs.  I can proudly say that the event was recorded and I am now immortalized on the Kinks “One for the Road” live album…..along with about 10,000 others.  This past week I was reading about another LOLA (LOw LAtency) technology which is helping musicians collaborate over Internet2. (

I quickly tweeted “This is why I love our field” when I read the article.  The idea that technology has brought geographically dispersed musicians together to collaborate and perform, points at some of the power we are unlocking by building the networks we do.  Maybe my love of music caused me to highlight the application but often we tend to focus on the negatives of technology rather than the wonders.  Some might say that many network and application level technologies promote more isolation not less.  I would argue that it is breaking down isolationist barriers everyday by easing collaboration.  The LOLA technology in the article vastly reduces delays across a network and combined with the ultra-fast networks of the R&E community and Internet 2, musicians can practice and actually have performances in real time while sitting in different countries.  Applications traversing R&E networks today allow researchers across the globe from diverse institutions and diverse disciplines to participate in a project completely independent of where that project is housed.

In the NY/New England, the R&E community is building an extraordinary platform for cooperation and collaboration.  This regional platform network is capable of delivering 1G, 10G and 100G services over an advanced IP infrastructure which has been developed in cooperation with regional partners Northeast Regional Education Network (NEREN), the Connecticut Education Network (CEN) and the Northern Crossroads (NoX) GigaPop in Cambridge.  Assets and connectivity region wide now become accessible to our membership.  OSHEAN, for instance, has built a partnership with NaviSite for on-net cloud services that a University in Connecticut, for example, can take advantage of.  Hospitals in RI can build networks to the hospitals in Boston and on and on.  The realization of this vision, while conceived a number of years ago, is just now coming to tangible fruition.  Significant technical work coupled with a vibrant spirit of cooperation has brought us into a new age of capability and possibilities.


“She walked up to me and she asked me to dance”…..

Tags:  Broadband  Low Latency  Northeast Regional Education Network  Northern Crossroads  Technology 

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