PA Schools Build Capacity With Ethernet Service

The Lincoln Intermediate Unit, which offers educational and technology resources to more than 96,000 local students and teachers, is providing Comcast Ethernet services to many of its member districts across York, Franklin and Adams counties in Pennsylvania. The Ethernet solution will outfit the organization with the infrastructure needed to support a variety of cloud computing and disaster preparedness initiatives currently being developed by its affiliated school districts.

Founded in 1970, the Lincoln Intermediate Unit provides technology resources for 25 member school districts, two career and technology centers, more than 80 non-public schools, and several learning centers, libraries and charter schools across three counties in southern Pennsylvania. In addition to offering Internet access, cloud-based IT support, video conferencing capabilities, Voice-over-IP (VoIP) and hosted servers, the organization also provides its member districts with the ability to utilize its Lincoln Learning Network (LLN), an online portal that hosts Discovery Learning streaming content. As demand for these online educational services grew, the Lincoln IU looked to Comcast Business to provide the network services needed to support these initiatives, as well as to connect its member school districts to the PAIUnet, a statewide, high-speed private network that allows teachers and students to communicate, collaborate and share resources over the Internet.

“More than 96,000 local students and faculty depend on us for access to their online educational resources each day, which means that we need to have total confidence in the quality and reliability of the communications services we use to ensure that they can connect to their data when they need it,” said Jared Mader, director of education technology for the Lincoln Intermediate Unit. “Comcast has allowed many of our districts to increase their bandwidth exponentially – and for half the price, in some cases – which has given them access to cloud computing, video conferencing and other online educational tools that had previously been cost-prohibitive for them.”

Lincoln IU is now using several Ethernet Network Services and Ethernet Private Lines from Comcast Business with speeds ranging from 100 Megabits-per-second (Mbps) to 1 Gigabit-per-second (Gbps) that connect 44 sites across the southern part of the state. The organization is also taking advantage of two 1 Gbps Ethernet Dedicated Internet lines that provide the Internet access for the schools to support online course management systems, which allow teachers to create their own online courses, websites, video content and calendars, as well as post assignments, test results and discussion boards for students.

This additional capacity also allows the Lincoln IU to offer remote data replication to support disaster preparedness initiatives for member school districts via a data center located at its headquarters in New Oxford. Schools are now able to back up their data at the IU and take advantage of redundant power, climate control, and, most importantly, geographic separation. Additional plans to incorporate new services from Comcast Business are currently underway.