Imagine running three major university campuses on one network. At any given minute, hundreds to thousands of students, teachers, faculty and administrators need immediate access to the internet. For Northeastern State University’s (NSU) three campuses, reliable internet connectivity is vital to the success of its mission: Gather Here. Go Far.
To support students and faculty in going far, OneNet recently completed a network upgrade to NSU’s campus in Tahlequah. The Tahlequah campus now has a 10 gigabit-per-second connection, which is up from two single one gigabit connections. The campus now has connectivity that is five times faster than the previous connection.
“We were delighted to partner with OneNet on our upgrade project,” said Dr. Richard Reif, NSU chief information officer. “We have seen immense improvements in our current connectivity, and we have headroom to spare for future initiatives.”
Before the network upgrade, NSU was experiencing debilitating network congestion. Services like video conferencing and payment services were knocked offline. NSU has also been installing wireless in student housing for the first time. This put an additional strain on the network with hundreds of new access points coming online.
Mitigating network strains like these through an upgrade is just one way OneNet has improved services for NSU. Dr. Reif said the connection into the Tahlequah campus supports the other two campuses through multiple protocol label switching, or MPLS, services. MPLS allows for network virtualization so the three campuses can pass traffic and information back and forth like they’re right next to each other, not miles apart. MPLS services are available to all OneNet internet customers.
“Our entire network is fed through OneNet’s connectivity,” Dr. Reif said. “Without the MPLS capabilities, our students would suffer, which means our mission would come to a screeching halt.”
One important service that has improved since the upgrade is videoconferencing. As a multi-site university, videoconferencing is a digital initiative that all three NSU campuses have been using more often. Reif said using video allows for the university to deliver coursework like never before. Students at each campus can dial into a video conference at any of the three campuses and interact with professors and other students. Content is shared through these platforms, and all video traffic is passed on the OneNet network.
Technology like videoconferencing enables NSU to expand its reach over multiple rural cities in Oklahoma. Students are no longer limited in their educational choices by where they live, because videoconferencing can facilitate classroom learning from any campus. Reliable connectivity ensures students receive the same quality of education as if they were physically in the same room.
The videoconferencing services are not limited to the NSU campuses. NSU also partners with other higher education organizations to meet the needs of Oklahoma’s rural students. Through internet-based conferencing software, students from Carl Albert State College are able to take classes at NSU without being physically present. This breaks down location barriers while providing education advancement opportunities.
“Supporting the collaborative environment of higher education is important to our mission of advancing technology across Oklahoma,” said Vonley Royal, OneNet executive director. “The recent upgrade at NSU further demonstrates our commitment to foster innovation while building strong relationships with higher education. We are grateful for our lasting partnership with NSU and for the opportunity to serve its three campuses.”
Reif said the partnership doesn’t end at connectivity. His team participates in ongoing cybersecurity talks with OneNet staff, works closely with OneNet engineers and even consulted with OneNet during a recent data center upgrade. Reliable connectivity is only the foundation to the partnership.
“For our university, reliable internet is everything,” Dr. Reif said. “In this day and age, it is just as critical for our students as food and water.”
Photos courtesy of Northeastern State University