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07/30/2004 - VPnet Slates Regional Rollout

Fiber has been fused, the business plan approved, member commitments have been received, and VPnet (Virtual Possibilities Network) is moving toward the final stages of completion. This July, thirteen sites committed including all of VPnets educational institution partners and one health care services organization.

Commitments for the initial equipment and ongoing operations of VPnet have been made by Community Colleges of Spokane (SCC), Eastern Washington University (EWU) Cheney, EWU Spokane Riverpoint, Gonzaga University, North Idaho College, University of Idaho (UI) Moscow, UI Post Falls, Washington State University (WSU) College of Nursing, WSU Pullman, WSU Spokane Riverpoint, and Whitworth College. In addition to the educational institutions, commitments to participate have also been made by Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS) and SIRTI.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) located in the Tri-cities has also agreed to connect to VPnet through the Westin Building in Seattle by the end of 2004. This will connect the research scientists at participating universities with a national research laboratory.

As a complement to the educational institutions, INHS has joined VPnet to provide extended distance health care education to rural communities. VPnet will leverage the INHS current wide area network to reach patients needing specific medical education not generally available without driving a considerable distance.

To finish lighting the VPnet fiber, infrastructure electronics have been ordered. Cisco Systems and their Gold Certified Partner NEC Unified Solutions, Inc. were the selected vendors and the equipment will arrive in mid-August to build the Pullman to Spokane to Seattle core of VPnet as well as to light up all of the thirteen sites. Cisco Systems has added value to VPnet by contributing over half of the cost of equipment needed to light the network. The value of the equipment is more than $300,000.

EDS and Avista have contributed network operations services to install, implement, manage, and support the network at carrier class levels. This makes VPnet a high availability network with Quality of Service (QoS), guaranteed response and repair times, and 24x7x365 support. Columbia Fiber Solutions has contributed to VPnet and has completed most of the fiber fusing.

The countdown toward lighting up the network has begun. Lighting VPnet should be completed during September. The last fiber link between Spokane and Cheney should be completed soon and the fiber fused. A celebration for the formal launch of VPnet is planned to coincide with the Spokane annual Chamber of Commerce meeting on September 23rd.

For more information about VPnet, visit http://www.vpnet.org.

Billie Moreland
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