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Julie Wernert
External Communications Manager, University Information Technology Services

Last modified: Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Three central Indiana higher education institutions join I-Light

June 3, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS -- Butler University and University of Indianapolis recently joined the I-Light network, Indiana's high-speed statewide fiber optic network for higher education. Marian College is slated to connect to I-Light within the next two weeks. I-Light provides Indiana colleges and universities digital communications at least 20 times faster than a typical home Internet connection.

Through the use of I-Light, Indiana colleges and universities can connect classrooms at distant locations with high-quality video-streaming, allow researchers to exchange large digital data files and access supercomputers and scientific data storage facilities at Indiana University and Purdue University, make possible multi-campus collaborative research projects, and enable the use of high-definition videoconferencing.

I-Light consists of more than 1,000 miles of fiber-optic cable that reaches every corner of the state and is larger per capita than similar networks in neighboring states. I-Light currently transmits traffic among more than 30 universities and colleges across Indiana. These institutions are also now connected to national research networks such as Internet2 and National LambdaRail.

Jeff Russell, chief information officer for University of Indianapolis, said the campus looks forward to a potential doubling of bandwidth and the streamlined data transfer that comes from bypassing the cluttered commercial Internet.

"This is like pulling into the express lane," Russell said. "For our health-related disciplines like nursing, kinesiology, physical therapy and occupational therapy, the ability to share medical imagery in a high-definition format opens up amazing possibilities."

Indiana University and Purdue University jointly manage and operate I-Light via the Indiana University Global Research Network Operations Center and are responsible for providing networking engineering support. Each university also provides technical and educational resources to partnering institutions through the high-speed network.

"I-Light significantly strengthens our ability to provide unprecedented opportunities to students through immediate access to crucial sources of information and to the most advanced collaborative tools," said IU Associate Vice President for Networks David E. Jent. "The expansion of I-Light to all corners of the state further solidifies Indiana's position as a national leader in high-speed networking in support of teaching, learning, research, technology transfer, and inter-institutional collaboration and cooperation -- activities that will help Indiana weather the current economic environment."

Butler University Senior Director of Instructional Technology and Associate Professor Julianne Miranda said Butler faculty are eager to explore I-Light and identify ways to integrate it into the classroom and laboratory.

"The increased capacity brings with it the potential to connect students and faculty to experts around the world, tap into a vast body of resources among other higher education networks via Internet2, and collaboratively engage in scholarship in ways not possible with our more traditional connections," Miranda said. "It will be exciting to see how it unfolds on our campus."

State Senator Teresa Lubbers (R-Indianapolis), who will assume the role of commissioner for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education at the conclusion of the special legislative session, said she is excited about the expansion of I-Light and added that it will provide a great opportunity for all connected higher education institutions.

"The I-Light optical fiber system will be a helpful tool for teachers and students to connect with other campuses and assist in facilitating research," Lubbers said.

Indiana Sen. Brent Waltz (R-Greenwood) said that he welcomes the addition of University of Indianapolis, which is located in his district, as part of I-Light.

"I believe I-Light will be vital to students and teachers in the years ahead, and I'm glad that Indiana government was able to play a role in helping facilitate this important program," Waltz said.

Peter Williams, chief information officer at Marian College said connecting to I-Light will enhance the teaching and learning environment by providing new ways for the institution to apply technology across campus.

"I-Light will also assist in progressing the cloud computing and virtualization initiatives of our IT department," Williams said, a benefit in building a seamless infrastructure to the end user.

I-Light launched in 1999 with a $5.3 million state appropriation by the Indiana General Assembly. The initial network, which connected IU Bloomington, Purdue University in West Lafayette, and IUPUI, launched in December 2001. In November 2005, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels announced funding to expand I-Light to the state's colleges and universities to support research and education.