Flint Waters, Wyoming’s chief information officer, said the state plans to increase Internet speed to state offices and schools as soon as July 2015.
Speaking before the state’s Joint Appropriations Committee on Wednesday as part of Wyoming’s annual budget negotiations, Waters said the state wants to increase the state’s Internet speeds from the current 2-gigabit service to a 100-gigabit system as part of a $15.7 million plan to develop a unified Internet network around the state.
Waters said the state’s existing Internet system for schools funnels through a single point at a state office building in Cheyenne, meaning any power outages or problems at that one location can cause a shutdown for the entire school system.
Waters acknowledged that is unacceptable, especially as the demand is growing fast for Internet service in Wyoming’s schools.
“When the original network was designed, computers were $6,000 or $7,000, and schools had 10 of them or 12 of them in a lab,” Waters said. “And you could schedule when everyone used them, so you never had more than 10 or 12 people on that connection at one time.”
“Now, you have an environment where kids come to school carrying devices, often more than one,” Waters continued. “They’ve got a phone, they’ve got a tablet, they’ve got a laptop. That’s a really common thing, and the connections that we have in place still, even with our efforts, are so slow.”
Waters said the increased Internet speed would lead to students being able to communicate with students in other countries or communicate directly with college professors.
“Giving them 100-gig access means that now I don’t have to get 20 of them in one room,” Waters said. “Now, while they’re walking down the hall going to their locker, they can get world-class access to video, to debates, to sporting events, to all of the world’s wisdom that’s captured on the other end of the piece of glass, in real time.”
Instead of building its own network, Waters told the committee the plan is to partner with industry for better service in an effort that will also hopefully attract businesses to the state as connection speeds will increase around the state.