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The Story: Bringing the State Together

  • In the early 80's Iowa community colleges were the first to experiment with educational networks for distance learning. 
  • Several community colleges planned and installed separate microwave-based telecommunications networks. 
  • In mid-1989, a bill was passed and signed providing for the construction of a shared, statewide telecommunications network.
  • Construction on Parts I and II of the Network began in late 1990. 
    • This consisted of installing 104 endpoints:
      • One fiber optic endpoint per county (99), 
      • An endpoint at each of the three state universities, 
      • An endpoint at Iowa Public Television (IPTV), and 
      • An endpoint on the State Capitol Complex. 

State Agency and Governing Body

  • ICN became a state agency in 1994. 
  • The Iowa Telecommunications and Technology Commission (ITTC) was established by the Legislature as the ICN's governing body. Telemedicine and federal government were given authorized user status.
  • Iowa Governor signed a plan in 1995 establishing Part III of the Network.
  • This consisted of adding full-motion video sites to Iowa's: 
    • public and private school districts, 
    • area education agencies, and 
    • public libraries.
  • The 104 endpoints of Parts I and II became operational in 1993. 
  • The first Part III site became operational at Battle Creek-Ida Grove High School in 1995. 

National Guard Armories. 

  • Also in 1995, the Audubon Armory was connected to the ICN. 
  • Use of ICN services at armories continues to assist the National Guard in training and allows Iowans another place to access ICN video services.

Full Motion Video Classrooms.

  • A major milestone was met in late 1997 when the 500th full-motion video classroom was connected to the ICN.
  • This was followed by the 600th classroom in 1998. 
  • This surpassed the The original design of the Network.  At, at full maturity, ICN had only planned for 500 classrooms.
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Parts I, II, and III

Part I: The initial buildout of the Network. This build-out provided fiber-optic connections to:

  • the three Iowa Regents universities, 
  • 15 community colleges, 
  • Iowa Public Television, and 
  • the State Capitol Complex with fiber-optic connections.
  •  This part of the Network is owned by the State of Iowa.

Part II: The fiber build-out created a Network point of presence in the remaining 84 Iowa counties. 

  • These sections of the Network are also owned by the State of Iowa.

Part III: The connections to other authorized users throughout the State, such as libraries, area education agencies, etc.

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Experienced Voice Provider

  • ICN has a long history of providing Voice communications services. 
  • Our experience began in the 1990s, when Voice services on the Capitol Complex, in Des Moines, transitioned to the ICN.  
  • The next VoIP accomplishment occurred in 2004, when ICN introduced VoIP technology to the Capitol Complex voice network.
  • In order to transition to full VoIP services, infrastructure on the Capitol Complex required to be updated to support upgraded Voice technology. 
  • ICN invested $1.7 million to upgrade fiber, copper cabling, and power.  
  • This infrastructure upgrade increased bandwidth capabilities that benefit all State government agencies. 
    • In total, the upgrade equaled approximately 58 miles of new cable installed on the Capitol Complex.  In 2019 ICN began providing VoIP services statewide.
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Fine Tuning the Technology

Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) and MPEG-2 Technologies

  • From 2000 - 2002, the ICN began to upgrade the backbone of the Network to Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) and MPEG-2 technologies. 
  • The switch to ATM technology allowed for higher speed transmission for video, Internet, and long distance voice communications. 
  • MPEG-2 video equipment allowed for increased bandwidth efficiency, improved the quality of full-motion, two-way interactive video. 
  • Deployment of an ICN ring topology structure continued, featured two-way signal transmission for increased dependability. 
  • The Network upgrade was completed in 2002.

Wide Area Network (WAN) Ethernet

  • Wide area network (WAN) Ethernet service was offered beginning in 2003. 
  • This allowed customers to share software and equipment at little cost compared to frame relay and dedicated circuits.

Moving from ATM to Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS)

  • ICN continued to add new technologies as the industry evolved and user demand increased.  
  • ICN started deploying core 10 Gbps switches in 2006, using MPLS.  
  • The ICN also started deploying a core router network shortly afterward.  
  • Both were essentially complete by 2009, with 18 core switches and 12 core routers. 
  • Additional router sites will be added as traffic warrants.  
  • This change to MPLS allows the network to be more flexible for different types of data, so a different platform isn’t required for each different type of service.  
  • The receipt of a BTOP (Broadband Technology Opportunities Program) grant expedited this migration for the transport to move from ATM to MPLS.  
  • The majority of the aggregation sites and edge sites were converted when the BTOP grant ended 6/30/2013.

IP Core Network Infrastructure Upgrade

  • In 2022, ICN completed the network upgrade to its IP core infrastructure. 
  • The upgrade involved implementing and maintaining a native 100GB core network, throughout the State. This Network is scalable up to 200GB as needed. 
  • The Network operates multiple optical rings built on fiber that provides redundant paths to allow traffic to flow bidirectional (in two directions) establishing better network reliability.  
  • The 100GB core passes traffic to ICN's aggregation locations at 10GB. This allows the ICN the ability to deliver multiple 10GB facilities to its customers. 
  • In this proactive measure, the Network is prepared to manage the increasing current and future bandwidth needs. With the added capacity at the Core, the ICN can securely carry the State’s voice, Internet and data traffic as needed, without degradation.
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Network Timeline

Chronology of the Network by year.

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