Fresh off its recent selection to overhaul the Mississippi Optical Network (MissiON), C Spire has completed a major technology upgrade of the state’s science and technology research and development arm – tripling capacity, cutting overall costs and expanding the size of the consortium.
C Spire is turning up the enhanced connections for the research arms at Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Mississippi State, Jackson State, the University of Southern Mississippi, Stennis Space Center, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers’ Engineering Research and Development Center and the national Internet 2 consortium.
Four regional universities – Delta State, Alcorn State, Mississippi University for Women and Mississippi Valley State – are being added to the MissiON network for the first time under a new state telecommunications contract awarded to C Spire earlier this year by the Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services (ITS).
Big Speed Boosts, Major Cost Savings
As part of the comprehensive upgrade, C Spire boosted bandwidth speeds up to 10 times faster for consortium partners, lowered overall latency, added a new interconnection with Internet 2, built new route diversity and redundancy to ensure optimal MissiON network uptime and eliminated a single point of failure from the previous network.
“As Mississippi’s leading broadband communications provider, C Spire is proud to provide innovative, leading-edge technology and the latest fiber optic infrastructure to help power the important work of the MissiON network and enable researchers to pursue comprehensive solutions to 21st century challenges,” said CEO Hu Meena.
“We’ve boosted aggregate total bandwidth by more than 380 percent while reducing the overall cost by over 50 percent annually,” Meena added. “This is a world-class network that fully supports MissiON’s important research objectives now and well into the future and saves taxpayers millions of dollars.”
All Fiber Optic Network Advantages
Leveraging its 8,600 route miles of high-capacity fiber optic infrastructure, C Spire has designed the network to support direct collaboration for the first time among the state’s research universities and regional institutions as well as access to resources in the ITS State Data Center and C Spire data centers in Jackson and Starkville.
“The benefits of an all optical fiber infrastructure are critically important for these types of networks,” Meena said. “When coupled with higher bandwidth, lower costs, more capacity, redundancy, route diversity, custom configurations, network expansion and our unrelenting, passionate focus on customer satisfaction, MissiON is one of the best in the R&D world.”
“Future-Proofing” MissiON Network
C Spire and Nokia are planning to test elements that could later be developed into one of the nation’s first Terabit-speed research networks. “Future proofing this network is critical so that the state’s research institutions can successfully compete for grants and funding from federal agencies and private endowments,” Meena said.
Terabit-speed research networks, which are 1,000 times faster than current 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) services, would allow for the download in HD of an entire season of HBO’s popular Game of Thrones series in 1 second or the download of a full human genome map in less than 3 minutes.
“We’re pleased with C Spire’s work and the continued commitment to such a vital infrastructure, which allows our research institutions and businesses to successfully compete on a global scale,” said Dr. David Shaw, vice president of Research and Economic Development at Mississippi State University and chairman of the MissiON Network Advisory Council.
C Spire also has designed and implemented new route diversity and redundancy from the MissiON network to the Internet 2 national research network and consortium through a new point of presence (POP) in Atlanta, Georgia. The network already had a “connector” agreement from a Jackson, Mississippi POP.
“We’re excited about C Spire’s recent enhancements to the network that supports Mississippi’s research institutions and the additional connection to our nationwide collaboration platform,” said Internet 2 CEO Howard Pfeffer. “These changes will help foster an even deeper cooperation between higher education, industry and government.”
Lower Campus Internet Access Costs
In another major change, C Spire moved commodity internet access for the 100,000 students, staff and faculty on the state’s eight university campuses directly to the MissiON core and provisioned it through multiple Tier 1 upstream internet service providers. This gives consortium members low-cost access – up to 80 percent lower than current rates.
“C Spire’s commitment to such vital infrastructure enables Mississippi research institutions and businesses to compete on a global scale,” said Glenn McCullough, Jr., executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, noting the state exported nearly $11 billion in goods and services to 176 countries last year, supporting over 180,000 direct and indirect careers in the Magnolia State.
“As we enter a new era of machine learning, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality and the Internet of Things, this commitment to an all fiber optic communications infrastructure will enable advances by our leading research and education universities and institutions to grow and diversify our state’s economy, create more jobs and improve the quality of life for everyone,” Meena said.
C Spire reinforced its commitment to innovation last fall by launching the C Spire Tech Movement initiative designed to leverage the company’s technology leadership and investments to help transform its service areas. One key element is the massive expansion of ultra-fast broadband and fixed wireless internet access with the goal of reaching thousands more consumers and businesses.