OCAN Makes New Degree Programs Possible at Carl Albert State College

This month, OneNet marks the anniversary of the Oklahoma Community Anchor Network (OCAN). One year ago, OCAN’s construction was completed, and services were deployed over the network. OCAN’s high-speed fiber optic network spans 1,005 miles and connects 35 Oklahoma counties. The network was designed to bring high-speed broadband options to rural communities across Oklahoma.

OCAN originally connected 33 community anchor institutions, such as higher education institutions, career technology centers, libraries, public safety departments and health care providers. Over the past year, OneNet has seen great advances in technology for the original anchor institutions and their communities, as well as the numerous other institutions that have connected to OCAN over the last year.

One community anchor institution that has experienced a significant impact since OCAN’s completion is Carl Albert State College (CASC) in Poteau.

“Before becoming an OCAN community anchor institution, we had strict limits on bandwidth consumption on our student network,” CASC Director of Information Technology Michael Martin said.

Thanks to the college’s connection to OCAN, students are now able to access streaming video lectures and learning content without the buffering and content limitations of the past. Another benefit CASC has seen from the increased bandwidth is the off-site backup of their current data center. This backup will eventually lead to paperless departments and soon a paperless campus. Another benefit is it will also provide increased data protection during natural disasters.

“The increase in network bandwidth allows us to pursue more robust videoconferencing and multi-media solutions for our faculty, staff and students. Our campus is now able to meet our students’ technological expectations,” Martin said.

CASC is currently in the planning process for three new degree programs, occupational therapy, health information technology and medical lab technology. These new programs require videoconferencing between CASC’s two campuses in Poteau and Sallisaw, which would not be possible without the connection to OCAN.

OCAN has brought opportunities to the communities it serves across our state and has fostered partnerships that were otherwise not possible. CASC leadership is currently investigating ways the school can better serve the community and looking for ways to collaborate with the hospital in Poteau. In addition, OneNet is also seeking opportunities to partner to extend OCAN services to more communities and the private sector

“Being an anchor institution has brought our campus and community opportunities otherwise not possible, and we look forward to the next year to see how we continue to grow,” Martin said.

~Story by Katie Kastl, OneNet Outreach Intern, Summer 2014

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