The text-heavy website looks like it’s stuck in the 1990s.
But peering past the Front Range GigaPop’s pages full of Times New Roman font and blue underlined links, you’ll understand what the fuss is about. The broadband network, long exclusive to universities and federal research labs, offers unthinkably fast speeds and access to the brightest minds – and their data. And now, this decades-old network wants to expand to connect as many western Colorado educational institutions, K-12 classrooms, nonprofits, health care services and community organizations it can, from Denver to Durango and Grand Junction.
“It’s important because it is essentially the premier higher-ed research network in Colorado. That alone has a lot of major benefits,” said Chad Robinson, director of IT services at Western Colorado University in Gunnison.
His voice gets more excited as he talks about the learning opportunities for students and faculty at Western. But it’s also about the economic-development potential for the town of 6,600 people. Having access to 10, 20 and even 100-gigabit internet speeds would attract more high-tech businesses and researchers, and possibly spur corporate relocations to Gunnison.
“Yeah, you could do a supercomputer here,” Robinson said. “I don’t know if that makes sense but, hey, you never know.”
The idea that an exclusive research network could spread to the Western Slope and connect students, telemedicine patients and telecommuters is being pitched as BiSON West. The project is the western expansion of the BiSON Network, or the Bi-State Optical Network that stretches from the University of Wyoming and the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s supercomputer in Cheyenne, to more than two dozen Front Range schools and research labs from Fort Collins to Pueblo. Front Range GigaPop, or FRGP, manages the BiSON Network.
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