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Pennsylvania Broadband Project Awarded $99 million in Federal Funds

Harrisburg, February 18, 2010

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, which submitted a joint application for the construction and management of a robust, statewide broadband network, the Pennsylvania Research and Education Network (PennREN). The National Telecommunications and Information Agency grant, awarded as part of the American Recovery and Revitalization Act, will be supplemented with an additional $29 million in private investment. When completed, the fiber optic cable network will extend over almost 1,700 miles through 39 Pennsylvania counties including 22 which currently are unserved or underserved based on their access to affordable broadband services. ”This project represents an extraordinary collaboration between our public and private universities, healthcare providers, economic development specialists and other public sector members to develop a network which 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, stated Chancellor John Cavanaugh of the State System of Higher Education, “We’re extremely pleased that the 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.” 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, potentially providing access and services to more than 5 million individuals in more than 2 million households and to 200,000 businesses. Initially, it will include 13 primary network facilities and approximately 50 secondary locations. The network will provide the capability to connect college and universities, public institutions, regional networks and last mile providers across the Commonwealth. KINBER’s founding members include Drexel University, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Mid-Atlantic Gigapop for Internet 2 (MAGPI) at the University of Pennsylvania, Bucknell University, Carnegie Mellon University, Lehigh University, Three Rivers Optical Exchange (3ROX), the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges, the Association for Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania and EINetworks, a collaboration of the Allegheny Library Association and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. KINBER is an independent, non-profit corporation to ensure the needs of all of the members and affiliates are addressed. Dr. John A. Bielec, Vice President for Information Resources and Technology is a member of the KINBER Board. The proposal was endorsed by more than 25 state and regional organizations. ### News Media Contact for Drexel: Niki Gianakaris, director, Drexel News Bureau 215-895-6741, 215-778-7752 (cell) or ngianakaris@drexel.edu