SDN Blog

Quick read about the High-Speed REED

Posted on Friday, February 01, 2008

Timing is everything. Especially in the research world. To borrow and tweak a phrase from FedEx, when data has to absolutely, positively be there in minutes (not overnight), researchers will need a network with capacity like SDN will deliver for the state's Research Education and Economic Development (REED) Network. What is the REED, how will it work, and what will it do? Answers to those and more follow: What is the High Speed Research Education Economic Development (REED) Network?

It is a public-private fiber optic network partnership. This Information Superhighway will closely follow I-90 and I-29 linking universities and research institutions to offer bandwidth of 50,000 Mega bits per second (Mbps). It is designed for collaborative research efforts. It would link the following institutions:

  1. South Dakota State University - Brookings
  2. University of South Dakota - Vermillion
  3. Dakota State University - Madison
  4. Northern State University - Aberdeen
  5. Black Hills State University – Spearfish
  6. SD School of Mines – Rapid City
  7. University Center – Sioux Falls
  8. EROS – rural Garretson
  9. Sanford Lab at Homestake – Lead
  10. State Government - Pierre
Why do we need a research network?

To allow our universities to compete for research projects, which ultimately bring ideas, capital, and people to South Dakota. Our state is last in the nation for research being conducted at state universities. The Board of Regents and Gov. Rounds want to change that. The first step to help universities compete for research project dollars will be to demonstrate infrastructure to move data quickly. That’s what the High Speed REED will do.

What is this network capable of at 50,000 Mbps?
  • It could download the entire text of the U.S. Library of Congress in 12 minutes
  • Every man, woman, and child in the nation could be on six phone calls at the same time over this network
  • Speed is important because research organizations like EROS can “clog the pipe” or take hours to transmit data without speeds like the REED would offer
  • As Sanford Lab at Homestake starts research or more universities receive research projects, the information pipeline will need to be in place to deliver large amounts of data at efficient speeds
Do all locations need the same amount of bandwidth?

No. Institutions will have varying bandwidth needs depending on number of students, employees and research projects. Each location will be able to grow its broadband capacity as its needs grow.

Why did Gov. Rounds choose a dim fiber solution?
  • A dim fiber solution simply means SDN Communications builds and owns the network and the state subscribes to a pre-determined bandwidth need. It has the option to grow into larger bandwidth, but any excess capacity can be accessed by health care, financial, weather and other private entities.
  • One of the other alternatives would have been a dark fiber solution, which means the state would have owned the entire network, but then it wouldn’t generate tax revenue. Plus, it would be years, if ever, that the state would fully use the entire broadband capacity of a dark fiber solution, therefore it would be less cost effective.
  • The dim fiber solution is the most affordable solution for the state.
What is the cost of the High Speed REED?
  • The agreement, which needs legislative approval, represents a $30 million contract over 20 years.
  • The one time costs to launch the project is $11.8 million, but an $8 million grant from the Great Plains Education Foundation will get it off the ground; The Board of Regents, through a bonding effort, will pay for the remaining $3.8 million.
  • Ongoing annual costs will be $900,000 more than the Regents’ existing networking costs and will be budgeted for by the Board of Regents
  • SDN Communications will provide $10 million in incentives to the state for its growing bandwidth needs.
Why not use existing fiber for the High Speed REED?
  • Some segments of existing fiber are reaching their life expectancy in the next few years.
  • New fiber will deliver better performance and last for the life of the project.
Why was SDN chosen to build the High Speed REED?
  • SDN provided the most flexible, affordable solution to benefit the state and private sector.
  • SDN is the region’s premier provider of large-scale networks
  • SDN and its Member Companies – 19 of South Dakota’s cooperative, municipal, family and tribal-owned telephone companies – have a keen interest in growing the state’s economy because of the major investment they’ve made in technology infrastructure.
  • Together SDN and its Member Companies have an existing fiber network of 14,000+ miles touching 300+ SD communities.
  • SDN already provides the following to the state:
    • Connectivity for the Digital Dakota Network (DDN)
    • Internet to state government, K-12, and higher education
    • Network surveillance for state’s DDN – monitoring 750 devices, 3,400 network interfaces at 360 locations.
  • SDN is the only network offering connectivity to three other states – Omaha, NE, Fargo, ND, and Cheyenne, WY – which will provide a protected network (if one path is cut it can be rerouted in another direction, especially since SDN and its Members have 14,000 miles of fiber in SD.)
  • SDN and its Member Companies
    • Hire 1,000 technical employees across the state that can maintain and protect this network.
    • Provide local decision making for the network.