By Marc Kovac
Gov. John Kasich helped Tuesday unveil an upgraded, super-charged broadband system that he and others expect to serve as a magnet for high-tech research and economic development.
With the $11 million-plus expansion, the Ohio Academic Resources Network, or OARnet, schools, universities and other research partners will be able to transmit electronic data at speeds of 100 gigabits per second, up from 10.
“This is like 4G times a billion,” Kasich said, referring to data speeds frequently touted by cellphone companies. “This is the real thing, where we can send an amazing amount of data. ... It is an unlimited potential for the state of Ohio.”
He added, “This is not just in Ohio. This is not just in America. This is the most comprehensive and connected operation in the entire world.”
OARnet includes more than 1,850 miles of broadband network connecting college campuses and other facilities across the state, from Cincinnati and Portsmouth to Wooster, Akron and Youngstown. The links will provide a means for scientists, educators and private businesses to transfer large volumes of electronic data quickly.
According to statistics distributed by the state, the upgraded system will enable the “data equivalent to 80 million file cabinets filled with text” to be transferred daily.
Or, “every one of Ohio’s 1.8 million enrolled K-12 students can simultaneously download an [electronic book].”
Or, “300,000 X-rays” or “8.5 million electronic medical records” can be transmitted in about a minute.
“It’s going to lead to more jobs, more excitement, more interest among our students, and it’s a big day, a big deal,” Kasich said.
The governor and Ohio State University President Gordon Gee said the network also will help make Ohio “cool” to young people, likely prompting many to remain in the state after earning their degrees.
“Can you imagine these young people wanting to get their hands on this stuff?” Kasich asked. “Who knows what they’d be doing with a hundred gigabits. I mean where they’re going, they won’t need roads.”
Gee added, “We want our people to stay here and to have great jobs. What this does is, this allows our people to connect with the world and then this great highway to make jobs and opportunities come here.”
Tuesday’s event included comments from representatives of nine college campuses around the state, including the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster and Youngstown State University.
Kasich urged the latter to reach out to Youngstown schools, connecting YSU’s advanced manufacturing initiatives with students who “grew up with the DNA of manufacturing.”
“It’s coming back in Youngstown,” Kasich said. “Let’s get those kids excited out there. ... I’ll help you any way that I can.”