Rhode Island’s Ocean State Higher Education Economic Development Administration Network (OSHEAN) is proposing a new fiber-optic backbone network to connect community anchor institutions and offer interconnection points for local broadband providers in all five counties in the state, as well as Bristol and Plymouth Counties in southeastern Massachusetts. The BEACON 2.0 network proposes service speeds between 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps to community-serving-institutions to enable higher education, research, remote healthcare, and many kinds of economic development and job training applications. The network would serve 14 university and community college locations, including the Community College of Rhode Island, New England Institute of Technology, University of Rhode Island, and the Naval War College. The project also plans extensive engagement with public safety entities, including the Rhode Island State Police and the Narragansett Indian Tribal Police, to enable rapid data and video transfer.

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BTOP In Action
Image: OSL and OSHEAN representatives at the kick-off event

Libraries conjure up memories of books and learning about new subjects, ideas, and places. Today, OSHEAN Inc.’s BEACON 2.0 project is bringing significantly increased broadband capacity and Internet access to public libraries across Rhode Island so that residents can expand learning beyond the printed word.

Made possible by BTOP funds, the BEACON 2.0 project is using a $21.7 million grant to build a fiber-optic network and a $1.2 million grant to improve public computer centers in Rhode Island’s libraries. The 339-mile fiber-optic network will bring high speed Internet to over 50 community anchor institutions and provide improved access to over 400 schools and libraries across the state. The public computer center portion of the Beacon 2.0 project is led by Ocean State Libraries and will improve capacity, equipment, and training in computer centers at all of Rhode Island’s public libraries.

The Beacon 2.0 Library Computer Centers project will deploy 627 new computer stations in 72 libraries and establish mobile computer centers. OSHEAN and Ocean State Libraries increased the number of mobile labs to 12 after receiving a high level of interest from local libraries. Two multilingual trainers are currently working with libraries to determine how to best address the needs of local communities, including Spanish’ and Portuguese’ speaking populations. Library staff will then teach classes on a wide range of topics from how to set up an e-mail account to how to use Microsoft Office products and how to apply for a job online. The mobile labs will enable libraries to hold training classes without interfering with other visitors’ access to the libraries’ main computer stations. The project team hopes to eventually deploy video teleconferencing equipment in the mobile labs to simulcast programming at other branches or to archive training sessions for later use.

Library computer centers across the state will be further enhanced through the development of the Beacon 2.0 Network. The dedicated network will greatly improve access at schools, libraries, and other community anchor institutions statewide and Beacon 2.0’s 400 Gbps Internet capacity will allow these local institutions to connect up to 50 times faster than the speeds currently available to Rhode Island residents.

Together, the Beacon 2.0 Network and Library Computer Centers will enhance access across the state and extend the Internet’s benefits to all Rhode Islanders.

Last Updated: October 18, 2011.

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