Education Exchange to interconnect students in 30 Georgia counties

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

NGN, Parker FiberNet and ETC Communications launched a partnership to create the Education Exchange, a fiber optic network to connect schools across North Georgia.

The partnership forms a 3,600-mile network, extending across 30 counties from the western to the eastern border of Georgia. Sharing a 10-Gigabit connection, the educational network allows more than 330 North Georgia schools and facilities to share instructional material, textbooks, classroom resources and administration assets, potentially impacting more than 250,000 students. Each of the regional networks are interconnected at the key telecommunications exchange in Atlanta, allowing direct connection to the Internet at the fastest speed possible.

Paul Belk, President and CEO of NGN, was the first to propose the idea. "This network will open up classrooms to the region and to the world in a way we have never seen before," Belk said. "Within our beta exchange sites, schools in Northeast Georgia have improved administrative services, deployed advanced video streaming projects, and performed real time music collaborations with other schools."

The Education Exchange will be governed by its members to decide what resources are shared. Many public and private schools and colleges in North Georgia are already utilizing one of the three networks, but the interconnectedness between networks is completely new.

David Parker, President of Parker FiberNet, said schools are the largest and most resourceful users of the Internet. "The uses of educational applications, which can be shared on the Education Exchange, are growing exponentially," Parker said.

"Schools will be able to teleconference, share instructional content, even put their phone systems on the internet," said Jason Smith, VP of Business Development at ETC Communications, which covers schools in the middle of North Georgia. "The speed of this system will allow schools to share information in real time and instantly access stored instructional material, while reducing costs within each school system," he said.

The Educational Exchange is made possible by the dense network of fiber optic cable installed across North Georgia over the last five years through a combination of federal and state investments partnered with community and entrepreneurial efforts.

"The strength of our communities, our economy, and workforce all starts in our schools," Belk said, "as a community-owned company, it's our job to give back and use our resources to better the next generation."

The three network companies signed the agreement this morning at a press conference held at the ETC Pavillion in Ellijay, Georgia. Interested schools should contact their local provider directly or visit EducationExchangeNetwork.com.

About NGN

NGN is a regional fiber optic system founded in 2009 and operating over 1,600 miles of fiber optic infrastructure from the headquarters in Clarkesville, Ga. Unlike many telecommunications corporations, NGN is a cooperative owned by its members, Habersham EMC, Blue Ridge Mountain EMC and Georgia Communications Cooperative.

About Parker FiberNet

Founded in 1996 by David Parker as a college startup, the company is now a facilities-based Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) responsible for the design and operation of hundreds of mission critical networks for a variety of industries out of their Rome, Ga headquarters.

About ETC Communications

ETC Communications is a diversified communications company providing solutions and services in Georgia and Tennessee. Founded in 1903, ETC's current ownership has been serving customers since 1958, and remains the oldest privately held telephone company in the state.