Special to WRAL Tech Wire

Editor’s note: MCNC is nearing 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, private partners and MCNC’s endowment, the project will be complete in 2013. To commemorate the launch and progress of the project, MCNC is celebrating “12 Days of Broadband” in a series of blog posts Dec. 8-23.

Day 8: The success and evolution of the e-NC Authority

In 2000, the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN) became the nation’s first near-broadcast-quality, two-way interactive network on which all participants at remote sites could hear audio and see video from all other sites – exactly how a conversation would work if they were all in the same room.

That same year, JDS Uniphase Corp. bought Cronos from MCNC. The proceeds enabled more than $100 million of investment in the state. The N.C. General Assembly then created the Rural Internet Access Authority (RIAA). MCNC pledged $30 million from the Cronos sale to the RIAA, which later became the e-NC Authority.

That donation helped create the nation’s first statewide broadband authority and accelerated the spread of high-speed Internet access across North Carolina to what we see today.

The e-NC Authority may be closing up shop at the end of 2011, but it has been a tremendous asset for the state over the last decade with the good work continuing next year and beyond through the state’s broadband initiative via the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

MCNC takes a look back at one of the state’s best investments and the positive impact it has had on North Carolina residents. Read full story.

Follow MCNC’s 12 Days of Broadband socially @mcnc and on MCNC’s Facebook Page.

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