Editor’s note: MCNC is nearing the completion of the first stage of a $144 million expansion of the North Carolina Research and Education Network. Funded through $104 million in federal BTOP grants and another $40 million in matching funding from the Golden LEAF Foundation, private partners and MCNC’s Endowment, the project will be completed in 2013. To commemorate the launch and progress of the project, MCNC is celebrating “12 Days of Broadband” in a series of blog posts between Dec. 8 and Dec. 23. These will be published in WRAL Tech Wire.

Day One: ECU network boost to benefit all of eastern North Carolina

East Carolina University (ECU) received a 10gig connection to NCREN this fall replacing its 1gig connection. ECU now serves as the main network hub for most community anchor institutions in North Carolina east of I-95. The upgrade was completed through the first phase of the $144 million Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative. ECU Director of IT Infrastructure Tom Lamb said the upgrade provides essential bandwidth and broadband capacity to service the school’s online and distance learning programs, videoconferencing, economic development, and other essential services. Read more about this announcement here.

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