C Spire expands Mississippi Optical Network to state’s 15 community colleges

C Spire expands Mississippi Optical Network to state’s 15 community colleges

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi’s community colleges are getting a technology boost. They expect it to mean not only faster internet but more opportunities for students.

There’s a fiber optic network that’s been in place for a few years now that you’ve likely never heard about. They call it MissiON network or Mississippi Optical Network. Its capacity allows for sharing among the state’s research universities, for example.

“It allows students, researchers and others at Jackson State to use the supercomputer at Mississippi State," explained David Sliman, University of Southern Mississippi CIO. "Likewise, MissiON allows terabytes of oceanographic data generated by USM and the Stennis Space Center to be accessed directly by individuals at Ole Miss as if the data resides on their own campus.”

Now, C Spire is helping the network expand to all 15 of the state’s community colleges.

“They can collaborate,” said C Spire CEO Hu Meena. "They can collaborate among themselves and with other institutions across the state of Mississippi to advance education, research, development throughout the state of Mississippi.”

And in the era of COVID-19 and more virtual learning, it will translate to a more reliable system.

“It requires adequate bandwidth to deliver a bunch of classes simultaneously to various students across our customer base," noted Jason Guntharp, Itawamba Community College Systems Engineer.

The community colleges are also responsible for much of the state’s workforce training and this is expected to help in that regard both from logistics and recruitment perspectives.

“It really gives us a competitive edge when we’re looking at economic development, when we’re looking at securing grant funds," described Executive Director of the Mississippi Community College Board Dr. Andrea Mayfield. "All of those things, the MissiON network is going to make a tremendous difference for everyone.”

We’re told things like artificial intelligence, coding, virtual and augmented reality and video training could be taught between Mississippi manufacturers and community colleges because of this new network capability.

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